In addition to the conflict and the recent earthquake, vulnerable communities must also overcome rampant inflation, economic recession, the collapse of public health services, the destruction of homes and the risk that crucial infrastructure may fail. Today, nearly 90% of Syrians live below the poverty line with more than 15 million needing humanitarian assistance, a trend that has been sustained over the past years.
The risk of collapse of Syria’s critical infrastructure is a pressing concern. The importation of replacement parts needed for the maintenance of critical infrastructure in major cities has been hindered by international restrictive measures and sanctions, which is why the ICRC continues to call for well-framed and standing humanitarian exemptions to be carved into sanctions regimes that have yet to do so.. Most treatment plants are damaged, and are operating at a reduced capacity, which has led to worryingly low levels of access to potable water.
After the earthquake, the ICRC, in partnership with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC), stepped up its response to respond to the growing needs by providing essential relief items, health care, water, mental health support, and by rehabilitating facilities, mostly schools, used as shelter. Additionally, the ICRC, with the SARC, improved access to clean water and provided transformers to restore power supply.
“The international community must confront the harsh reality that the current situation in Syria is untenable, and failure to act will have dire consequences for all those involved and hinder any prospects for sustainable recovery,” says Fabrizio Carboni, the ICRC’s regional director for the Near and Middle East. “We cannot turn a blind eye to the suffering of the people in Syria. We must prioritize the preservation of critical infrastructure and provide comprehensive humanitarian responses.”
The ICRC appeals to donor states for an immediate international commitment to safeguard critical infrastructure and essential services, and to ensure that a comprehensive humanitarian response can be sustained while more durable solutions can be found. Coordinated efforts and increased funding are urgently needed to facilitate early recovery.
“The collapse of these essential services is not a distant threat but very much possible, with devastating consequences for the Syrian people, if more isn’t done to help prevent it” said Carboni. “By investing in meeting these vital needs, we can create a positive ripple effect. It will enable Syrians to, to at the very least gain access to a basic level of essential services, which can contribute to the process of rebuilding their lives and empowering humanitarian organizations to significantly enhance the effectiveness and impact of their assistance. Let’s act now.”