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Syria Relief have written a full-page open letter in tomorrow’s edition (Saturday 11th July 2020) of The Times addressed to President Putin, Premier Xi Jinping, President Trump, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and President Macron, the 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council urging them to stop vetoing measures to get aid into Syria, through Resolution 2504. This comes amidst the backdrop of the first confirmed COVID-19 case in war-torn Idlib. Syria Relief have urged the super powers to “stop the politics. It is time to take action for humanity.”
The letter of the text reads:
Dear President Putin, President Trump, Premier Xi Jinping, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and President Macron,
In light of the first confirmed case of Coronavirus in war-torn Idlib, we plead with you, please do not veto humanitarian aid entering North West Syria.
On Thursday, the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in war-torn Idlib, where the healthcare system is already in a state of complete collapse thanks to over 84 hospitals and medical facilities being destroyed, damaged or forced to close during the brutal Idlib military campaign. Due to this fact, as a charity with one of the biggest healthcare operations in North West Syria, we believe Idlib has the capacity to treat less than 90 severe cases of COVID-19. Unless more medical support is able to reach Idlib, contracting the illness will be a death sentence for most severe cases.
Yet, despite this, there is currently wrangling over the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2504, which regulates crossborder aid entering Syria. As the leaders of the five permanent members of the Security Council, you have the power to ensure that the extremely vulnerable people in Idlib are no longer pawns in this game of geopolitical chess.
On behalf of the people of Idlib, we beg of you that scenes similar to earlier this week, where the Russian and Chinese governments vetoed the proposals written by Germany and Belgium to extend the Bab al-Hawa and Bab as-Salam border crossings for 12 months and instead Russia proposed to keep only one crossing open for 6 months, are not repeated.
As we have seen since the decision was taken to close the al-Ya’rubiyah crossing in the North East in January – closing crossings costs lives.
The last thing the Syrian people need, 80% of whom now live below the poverty line, is for life-saving aid to be harder to access. If the superpowers continue to play this game of geopolitical chicken, failure to renew the resolution will result in all border crossings being closed. This would be a humanitarian catastrophe.
We beg you to work together to pass a 12-month extension for the two border crossings in North West Syria and re-open the al-Ya’rubiyah crossing in the North East. It is the only humane thing to do.
There are close to 3 million people in Idlib, half of them are internally displaced due to the 9-year-war which has ravaged Syria. A displacement camp is the perfect place for a disease like COVID-19 to spread. Often, two or three families live under one tent and access to running water is rare – social distancing and being able to regularly wash your hands are luxuries the people of Idlib can only dream of.
It seems alien to us that, in a time like this, conversations are taking place on how to limit aid getting into Syria, not on how to increase it. The people in Idlib did not want to be victims in this war and they cannot cope with a COVID-19 outbreak.
Please, stop the politics. It is time to take action for humanity.
Dr Ayman Jundi
Chairman, Syria Relief
Chief Executive, Syria Relief
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