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COVID-19 Pandemic, Economic Collapse Worsen Humanitarian Disaster in Syria

Sept. 19, 2020 (EIRNS)—UN Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen delivered a statement to the UN Security Council yesterday in which he expressed cautious optimism about the Constitutional committee talks in Geneva, but expressed concern about a series of violent and potentially violent incidents. He also issued a strong warning about the humanitarian situation in Syria. “The COVID-19 pandemic is emerging as a major challenge for the Syrian people, who are acutely vulnerable after 10 years of conflict,” Pedersen said.

“As Under-Secretary-General [Mark] Lowcock told you two days ago: reports from inside Syria continue to point to a much broader spread of COVID-19 than the number of confirmed cases conveys. In some areas, existing healthcare facilities have faced challenges in absorbing all suspected cases—particularly as healthcare workers, already in short supply, are themselves struck with the virus. Syrian refugees, both inside and outside camps, remain at great risk as well.”

In this environment, Pedersen went on, humanitarian needs remain acute. “Many Syrians face food insecurity, poverty and deprivation, particularly in the face of unprecedented economic collapse and socio-economic strain,” he said, and stating that food prices have increased by 250% in the past year.

“I appeal once again for your support in securing both the necessary resources and humanitarian access for all those in need of relief, in accordance with international humanitarian law,” he said. “And it remains imperative that any sanctions or measures that can undermine the capacity of the country to ensure access to food, essential health supplies and COVID-19 medical support are waived.”

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