Syria and a global pandemic
A chara, – A new battleground in the nine-year conflict in Syria has opened up with confirmation of the first cases of Covid-19 in war-torn Idlib Province.
Four medical staff working in two hospitals on the border with Turkey have tested positive for the virus, and we are likely to see more in the coming days and weeks.
The consequences of an uncontrolled Covid-19 outbreak in northwest Syria are almost too terrible to contemplate, with around 2.3 million of the four million population in the opposition-controlled area displaced from their homes, living in overcrowded temporary shelter and all dependent on aid.
The controls that Ireland and countries around the globe have enacted in the past months to stem the spread of Covid-19 are neither practical nor possible in the refugee or displaced camp context. Although Goal staff in Syria have now reached over 800,000 people with information on controlling the spread of the virus, it is unrealistic to expect people who live in such conditions to be able to wash their hands often given the lack of running water, to wear masks, to sanitise, and to socially distance while living six or seven to a tent while a similarly full tent is inches on either side. In addition, the health system is overwhelmed after nine years of brutal conflict.
Goal has been on the ground in northwest Syria since 2012, and is providing more than 1.1 million conflict-affected people with water, food and livelihoods.
We will continue to do everything that is humanly possible to support these populations.
Sustained support is needed from the international community. The world must not forget the plight of the people of Syria. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Since 2011, an estimated half a million lives have been lost and over 16 million people have been displaced by war in Syria. Rather than increasing what little access remains, a UN Security Council veto by Russia and China resulted in new restrictions. This decision comes as the first Covid-19 case is confirmed in Idlib, a Syrian area close to the Turkish border.
The plight of the Syrian population remains urgent and ever more critical as millions still depend on humanitarian assistance for the most basic services such as food, shelter, water and medical care.
There is perhaps no more challenging active conflict than the Syrian war and there are no easy solutions.
The work of the non-permanent members of the UN Security Council has been essential in ensuring the needs of the civilian population were not forgotten in this deeply politicised conflict.
The Syrian people deserve real leadership in the search for conflict resolution.
We know that Ireland has been actively championing increased humanitarian access and will need to play an even more important role on the UN Security Council in 2021. – Yours, etc,
Source: Syria and a global pandemic