Next week the Security Council will meet to vote on the renewal of the UN-led cross-border mechanism in northwestern Syria.

David Miliband, President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, said, 

“It is critical that the Security Council votes to renew the cross-border resolution for Syria, which is set to expire on January 10. A vote in support of this resolution will ensure over 2 million Syrians in the Northwest continue to have access to lifesaving assistance including food, water, shelter and medical assistance every month. As the UN Secretary-General has made clear, there is currently no viable alternative to cross-border assistance to meet the scale and scope of needs in northwest Syria, where over 4 million people are currently in need of humanitarian assistance.  

“After a year in which drought, a cholera outbreak and economic downturn have added additional strains on communities already impacted by over a decade of conflict, this resolution is a key lifeline that will ensure people can survive. Needs across Syria are on the rise and have reached extremely alarming levels in a number of areas in northwest Syria. People no longer have sufficient resources to survive.  Across the country the number of people in need has risen to record levels. In the last year needs have increased by 5% to 15.3 million (from 14.6 million last year). The vast majority of those in need are women and children (75%).  

“As we enter the harsh winter months, displaced families and host communities face a struggle to survive freezing temperatures, flash floods, and the loss of seasonal incomes. Last January extreme winter weather conditions, including heavy snowfall and freezing winds, severely affected northwest Syria, with hundreds of tents destroyed and thousands damaged. The need for predictable, sustained and effective humanitarian access is imperative and a failure to re-authorize the mechanism would be inexcusable.  

“As the IRC’s 2023 Emergency Watchlist shows, guardrails against crisis have been weakened. Wars are longer and more virulent, Syria a prime example. The weakening of guardrails – such as the UN cross-border aid mechanism – means that need grows unchecked. Needs have grown in areas of northeast Syria and northwest Syria that have lost the cross-border aid mechanism over the years.

“After more than eleven years of failure for the Syrian people, Council Members should be guided by humanitarian imperatives rather than politics. A renewal will ensure Syrians in need can be reached through the most direct routes and have guaranteed access to assistance over winter. This resolution is the bare minimum: secure and predictable assistance should be non-negotiable. At a time of increased need, more -- not less -- access is needed."