Aid convoys have now also entered Arbin and Zelalka, the last two Syrian towns currently under siege to be reached. As one of the most important donors, Germany has financed aid measures in Syria totalling over two billion euros to date. Foreign Minister Steinmeier said that this improved humanitarian access was “a tangible sign of hope”. The supply situation is still poor, however. The Foreign Minister said that we must therefore remain steadfast in our efforts to work towards a continuation of the peace talks in Geneva.
We will not abandon Syria
Civil war has been raging in Syria since 2011. Around 600,000 people are currently trapped in 18 besieged areas and are in urgent need of humanitarian aid. This is why it was critical for the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) to agree to measures to improve humanitarian access at its meeting in Munich in February 2016. “We exerted a great deal of pressure in Munich and fought hard to enable humanitarian access for the international aid organisations. After four months, it is clear that our efforts were worth it”, was Foreign Minister Steinmeier’s assessment of this result in an interview with the “Süddeutsche Zeitung”. “The international donor community has not forgotten the people in Syria and has not abandoned them.”
Food for four million people
Around 300,000 people in besieged areas were supplied with humanitarian aid on at least one occasion by the United Nations and its partners in 2016. German aid is getting to Syria via the World Food Programme, for example. With contributions of 570 million euros, Germany is currently the organisation’s biggest donor. Of this sum, 200 million euros has been set aside for aid programmes in Syria alone. Thanks to this support, four million people in Syria can be supplied with food each month.
Pressure to continue peace talks
Despite this progress, humanitarian access remains poor. “The convoys authorised to date do not even supply half of what is needed. Vital medicines have been removed from supplies and authorisations are still being delayed at random”, said Steinmeier. Moreover, the humanitarian need continues to grow as a result of the ongoing hostilities. With this in mind, Foreign Minister Steinmeier stated that it was “now more crucial than ever that we keep up the pressure with partners in order to achieve still more and to improve conditions so that the peace talks in Geneva can continue”.