Minister for Foreign Affairs &Trade, Charlie Flanagan TD, and Minister of State for Development, Trade Promotion and North South Co-operation Seán Sherlock TD, have called for an immediate and full end to the denial of humanitarian assistance to the civilian population in Syria.
Nearly 400,000 Syrians are living in fifteen besieged locations without access to life-saving aid. Reports suggest, for example, that up to 42,000 people remain in the city of Madaya, which has been besieged for more than five months. Humanitarian access is hampered by the ongoing five-year conflict in Syria, and freedom of movement is restricted by armed actors and landmines.
Minister Flanagan, condemning the use of sieges to deny access to food and medical relief to affected populations, said:
“Ireland has repeatedly made clear its absolute condemnation of the practice of denying humanitarian assistance to civilians. The use of such starvation sieges against civilian populations is a war crime."
Minister Flanagan continued:
“The Assad regime’s war against its own population should not be supported by any State and I urge all members of the International Syria Support Group to press for a nationwide ceasefire and a negotiated end to the Syrian conflict. I reiterate Ireland’s support for the UN Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court”.
Minister of State Sherlock added:
“Starvation of civilians is reprehensible. Ireland’s humanitarian partners in the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, the UN and WFP left Damascus on Monday and delivered humanitarian aid to the civilian populations of Madaya, Foua and Kafraya, which have been besieged for months."
Minister of State Sherlock reiterated that:
“Ireland’s commitment to the people of Syria remains a priority. Since the beginning of this crisis, we have provided over €42 million of humanitarian assistance to relieve suffering within Syria and the neighbouring countries.
“Ireland will continue to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Syria. In 2015, over €13m was provided through our UN, NGO and Red Cross partners and it is intended to exceed this figure during 2016.”
13 January 2016
The Syria conflict has triggered the largest humanitarian crisis since World War II. Since the Syrian uprising began in March 2011, more than 250,000 people are reported to have been killed, and more than 4.4 million are now refugees in neighbouring countries.
The total number of people requiring humanitarian aid within Syria greatly exceeds the number of refugees who have fled the country. Of the 13.5 million people in Syria in need of urgent humanitarian assistance within Syria, more than 6.6. million are displaced from their homes.
Up to 4.5 million Syrians are living in hard to reach areas of Syria. Nearly 400,000 of these are in 15 besieged locations without access to life-saving aid. Humanitarian access is hampered by the ongoing five-year conflict in Syria, and freedom of movement is restricted by armed actors and landmines.
It is reported that up to 42,000 people remain in Madaya, which has been besieged for more than five months. The last humanitarian convoy to reach Madaya was on 18 October 2015 and was delivered jointly by the UN, International Red Cross and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, all of which are supported by Irish Aid in our response to the humanitarian crisis in Syria. Medical evacuations from the area took place in December 2015.
Irish Aid’s Syria response is our largest to a single crisis in recent years. Ireland has been providing humanitarian assistance to Syria and the countries of the region since 2012, and our total support by the end of 2015 was €42 million. In 2015, Ireland’s pledge of €12 million to the Syria crisis was exceeded by more than €1.7 million. Ireland’s funding is channelled via UN, Red Cross and trusted NGO partners, and is being used to provide humanitarian supplies and urgently-needed health, education, water and sanitation services, as well as measures to protect children and vulnerable families displaced in the region. In addition, members of Ireland’s Rapid Response Corps have been deployed to assist UNHCR’s current work in the Middle East and the Balkans.
Irish Aid is the Government’s overseas assistance programme. It is managed by the Development Cooperation Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. For further information see www.irishaid.ie