14 Mar 17 14 Mar 17

Syria six years on: Warring groups must allow humanitarian access

Six years into the war in Syria, civilians continue to suffer as a result of a brutal conflict that has precipitated a complex humanitarian crises. This has resulted in ever-mounting suffering and left millions of people without access to basic healthcare.

In the face of these colossal needs, Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) reiterates its call to warring groups to allow access to Syria, in order to provide medical assistance to the victims of war.

"We call for space for independent impartial care in Syria and for aid groups to be allowed to conduct concrete humanitarian and medical response in areas of need."
pablo marcomsf middle east operations manager

“All parties to the conflict, neighbouring countries and international actors must allow access for humanitarian aid and not use it as a political tool,” said Pablo Marco, Middle East operations manager for MSF.

“They must also allow those in need of medical assistance into areas where they can access specialised medical treatment.

"They must also enable medical staff to access them, while ensuring the protection of first-responders, medical staff and facilities.” 

MSF denied access in Syria

The war, coupled with attacks on medical personnel and facilities, has dramatically weakened Syria’s previously well-functioning healthcare system.

This is at a time where there has been a significant surge in medical needs as a result of the conflict, placing tremendous pressure on the remaining healthcare infrastructure.

MSF teams are currently operating in several Syrian governorates to provide life-saving care. However, the Government of Syria has still not granted authorisation for MSF to work in the territories it holds, despite repeated requests.

MSF also does not have a presence in areas under the control of the Islamic State group for lack of credible assurances to protect the safety of our staff.  

“All this puts large areas out of reach for MSF for the moment,” Marco said. “While we will continue our efforts to work across all Syrian territories, we call for space for independent impartial care in Syria and for aid groups to be allowed to conduct concrete humanitarian and medical response in areas of need."

Cross-border evacuation for Syrian refugees

Turkey, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon have made immense efforts to help Syrian refugees, hosting almost 4.8 million Syrians.

However, hundreds of thousands continue to seek refuge abroad.

“The rest of the world cannot turn its back on thousands of people who have fled war and persecution."
pablo marcomsf middle east operations manager

MSF calls on Syria’s neighbours to allow the cross-border evacuation of not only vulnerable cases, critical cases, and the severely ill and wounded, but also for all those seeking refuge in the spirit of the Refugee Convention.

“The rest of the world cannot turn its back on thousands of people who have fled war and persecution," asid Marco. "Respecting peoples' right to seek asylum and to obtain proper assistance and protection is fundamental."

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Six years of war 

As the conflict enters its seventh year, Syria remains one of the most complex and volatile humanitarian crises in the world today.

In the war-torn country, the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) governing conflicts has been entirely overlooked, leading to an absence of due care from parties to the conflict to avoid civilian casualties. 

“Warring parties in Syria must take steps to protect the civilian population and civilian infrastructure as per IHL in zones of battles,” Marco said. “Those infringements to IHL are  unacceptable."

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