“I have just completed an invaluable visit to Jordan and Lebanon, where I met IRC staff and Syrian, Jordanian and Lebanese clients pushed to the limit by a protracted conflict that has been all but forgotten by the international community.
“The IRC has been delivering aid in Syria since 2012, and in many respects never before has it been so complex. Six months since the devastating earthquakes and 13 years into the conflict, humanitarian need in Syria is at an all-time high. The human cost associated with over a decade of conflict and instability in Syria continues to rise. More than 15 million people require humanitarian assistance today, more than at any other time during the conflict. The absence of progress towards a political solution and consequences of a protracted conflict have pushed roughly 90% of Syrians into poverty. This year’s humanitarian response plan is barely a quarter funded, which will mean even higher needs in 2024.
“It is crucial that humanitarian aid can reach populations in need particularly in the Northwest of the country, free from obstruction, conditionality, or interference by state and non-state actors. There can be no justification for restricting or conditioning aid, particularly at a time when humanitarian needs are at an all-time high. It is essential that urgent action is taken by the UN and international community to secure long-term, sustainable, and safe humanitarian access to Northwest Syria, including through a Security Council resolution.
“Needs in Lebanon and Jordan are no less severe, as the region grapples with funding cuts and the impacts of the global economic downturn. Humanitarian need, once limited to refugees, is now widespread amongst all population groups. 80% of the Lebanese population lives below the poverty line. More than half of the Jordanian population is now vulnerable to food insecurity. It is critical that these host countries receive longer-term guarantees from the international community, assuring them of support for the foreseeable future.
“Against an ever more challenging backdrop, IRC teams continue to serve refugees and local communities with new and innovative solutions. In Lebanon, I had the privilege to visit our groundbreaking programme with Sesame Workshop - Ahlan Simsim - now the single largest early childhood intervention in the history of humanitarian response. Over five years, Ahlan Simsim has pioneered new approaches to remote learning and technology solutions, reaching children wherever they are. With increased support and partnership, Ahlan Simsim can grow - leveraging the strong foundations of partnership, locally-owned solutions and the trust we’ve built as a programme for the past five years to scale up solutions for widespread long-term impact, putting years of lessons learned to work for millions more children in the Middle East and North Africa. In Jordan, the IRC is working with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development on an innovative finance advisory model, bringing together the strengths of international financial institutions, donors and humanitarian and development actors to better serve both local communities and amplify the impact of investment. In Syria, the IRC’s Airbel Impact Lab is piloting new “Seed Security” approaches to ensure farmers can withstand growing climate shocks and build their resilience with climate-adapted seeds, reaching 100,000 people over the next five years.
"Syrians and their neighbours have paid a heavy price for the loss of attention by the international community. The earthquake in February exposed a graphic truth: a forgotten crisis is not a resolved crisis. Syrians and their neighbours can ill afford to remain at the mercy of events, trapped by circumstance and vulnerable to shock. What we need is energy and funding for recovery, for innovative solutions that strike at the heart of the realities on the ground, for families to rebuild their lives and break free from the cycle of poverty and suffering.”