Office of Humanitarian Affairs NE Syria: humanitarian situation in North and East Syria and problems with UN OCHA report

Since October 9th, with the beginning of the aggression on the areas of northern and eastern Syria; the features of the humanitarian crisis began to emerge and intensified with the increasing severity of aggression and violations. Education in 810 schools has been disrupted, resulting in 86,000 pupils being deprived of access to their schools. Health services have been damaged due to the direct targeting of hospitals and medical staff or lack of access to medical supplies, loss of health archives and increased sicknesses resulting from the military activities. Directly or indirectly all this has led to a 40% decrease in health response.

The direct targeting of the main water station in Alouk and the blocking of food and water supply has put 500,000 citizens at risk of their welfare and at risk of water borne disease and contamination.

The OCHA (UN Office the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) report acknowledges that 71,000 displaced people from various Syrian regions were hosted by the OCHA prior to the war. If we take into account the marginalization and poor services that these areas had previously suffered and add IDPs displaced by the recent military operations, we can imagine the pressure on the infrastructure and the host community.

The areas of northern and eastern Syria can be divided into two regions in terms of stability. The region which has recovered and has only recently emerged from the aftermath of the war against ISIS, and an area that enjoys a relatively stable and normal life.

The humanitarian situation in northern and eastern Syria responds to three aspects: That local organizations and civil society organizations suffer from limited resources and poor resources.
That international organizations across the border at the beginning of the aggression withdrew their staff and suspended most of their activities due to security concerns in addition to being pressured by the Turkish government.
That UN agencies and partners, despite their efforts, have their response limited by insisting on full coordination with governments. Their positions and reports are influenced by the nature of their staff’s relationship with the governments of the countries they work in.

In the case of northern and eastern Syria, the Turkish and Syrian influence has a significant role through the offices of Damascus and Gaziantep as an example. On 11 October, the Office of Humanitarian Affairs sent a request to UNHCR and OCHA to assist in the evacuation of Mabrouka and Ain Issa camps and transfer them to a safe area because of the potential risks. The disaster occurred and the United Nations agencies refused to intervene in the construction of Tal Abyad and Ras Al- Ain camps or to contribute to the expansion of Mahmudli camp, in compliance with the circular of the Governor of Al-Hasakah No. 529 / p.

In the report of Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lokoc submitted to the Security Council on 14 October 2019, several points were raised, inlcuding: The entry of 30,000 trucks into Syria through the crossings specified by UN Security Council Resolution 2165, including 900 in November. Although the Yarubiya crossing is one of the passages covered by the resolution, the number of trucks during November so far, for example, was zero.

The report thanks the Turkish government for its help on the repair of the Aluk plant, which has not arrived, while ignoring the bombing of the station by Turkish forces on 10/10 and hindering the repairs to date. In addition to the delay in allowing the arrival of sterilization materials and filters to the alternative plant (Hama) by the Government of Damascus.
The report speaks of the displacement of 200,000 people and the return of 130,000 of them to their places of origin, while the UNICEF report on 5/11 reports the displacement of 215,000 and the return of 107,000 of them. These figures are based on the update issued by OCHA on 31 October, the same entity represented by Mr Lokoc.

According to the statistics of our offices, IDP committees and the Education Authority, there has been an increase in the number of schools used as shelters between 27/10 and 13/11, equivalent to 11 schools and an increase of 1300 displaced families in Raqqa in addition to 1060 additional families in Al-Hasakah. In the same period our office has recorded the return of 60,000 displaced to their areas of residence in Qamishli, Ain al-Arab (Kobani) and Darbasiyah. Which raises the question why the increase to 107000 and the reporting that the increase is returned to the areas under control of the Turkish forces.

We are in the Office of Humanitarian Affairs, where we have not recorded any case of returnees to the areas under control of the Turkish forces from the people of those areas and where such return is excluded because of the serious violations suffered by the people of those areas by armed factions, regardless of ethnicity and religion.

We find it right to ask serious questions about the professionalism and credibility of these figures provided by OCHA and if they are true, we can ask who these returnees and where they came from, which raises the concern and confirms the fears of demographic changes in the areas of Turkish control. In the Office of Humanitarian Affairs, we call on all humanitarian actors and interventions in Syrian affairs to abide by the standards of humanitarian action and to promote independence and impartiality and remove this file from political tensions and reject attempts to dominate by governments over the reports and responses of the humanitarian situation.

We also call on the peoples and governments of countries sympathetic to the humanitarian crisis in northern and eastern Syria to attach statements and actions to .the people of this region on the ground

The international organizations are encouraged to resume their activities in response to the humanitarian situation.

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