Thank you, Commissioner.
We concur with you. Indeed, the only viable solution and future for Syria is the future where the guns fall silent.
The only viable future is the one indeed when people wake up in the morning without fear of whether they will see the end of the day.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has been on the ground since fighting started. We have invested hugely in Syria. This crisis has resulted in an acute humanitarian emergency. In support of our dedicated colleagues from the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC), and standing proudly alongside our colleagues from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), our focus has been to accompany affected communities to respond to their needs and to recover their dignity.
For the millions of people living in hard-to-reach or besieged areas, humanitarian organizations like the Syrian Arab Red Crescent are their only lifeline, their only source of hope. Any focus on Syria’s future cannot come at the expense of Syria’s present, and the pressing and massive needs of people across the country.
However, whenever we can, we also need to do a better job of supporting people to become stronger and more resilient. There are examples of this being done, but it’s not enough – we need to bring these efforts to scale.
I have just returned from Syria last week. I visited Homs which is a different place to the one I visited 12 months ago. Last year, I was struck by the deafening silence. Today, there are people and children on the streets, waking up every day and trying to develop strategies of survival and coping mechanisms. Coping mechanisms, however, that are stretched to the maximum
We need to support them. They asked us one thing: “Help us, support us to recover what is dearest to us, which is our human dignity”.
We are also asking you, our partners, to invest more significantly in strengthening the capacity of those on the ground, including the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and other National Societies from the region.
SARC volunteers and staff distribute relief to more than 5 million people each month, together with all the other partners.
We must do more to protect humanitarian workers. We cannot continue to measure their courage through the number that we lose on the line of duty.
We have already lost 63 volunteers, and while I was sitting here, I just received a message that we lost another one in Deir-ez-Zor in eastern Syria. That is another letter of condolence to write this evening; one of the hardest experiences in doing this job.
Strengthened investment in livelihoods, in rehabilitating and restoring basic services is critical – and the needs for our services will grow. This includes primary health care services, mobile clinics, first aid, water and sanitation, as well as food distribution.
On behalf of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and our 190-member National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies including SARC, we join the ICRC in appealing for timely and adequate financial resources to meet increasing and changing needs. To the extent possible, these resources should be multiyear and flexible, in recognition of the scope and complexity of the work that is needed, and of the importance of providing sustained support to communities looking to get back to their own feet.
But above all, we need an end to this war, because there is no future for Syria without peace.