New York, 15 September 2021
UNDER-SECRETARY-GENERAL FOR HUMANITARIAN AFFAIRS AND EMERGENCY RELIEF COORDINATOR, MARTIN GRIFFITHS
Thank you, Madam President. I hope you can all hear me. I returned last week from a visit to Syria, Lebanon and Turkey, my first mission to the region in my new capacity. The visit offered an opportunity for candid and constructive discussions, including in Damascus with Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad and his Deputy, Bashar al-Jaafari, and in Ankara with Presidential Spokesman Kalın as well as the Deputy Foreign Minister there.
My primary conclusion from my visit is that humanitarian needs in Syria are greater than they have ever been, as many people told me, even though we may read about it less in the front pages of newspapers. The latest assessments tell us that this is the case. As authorities in Damascus reminded me, an estimated 13.4 million people across Syria require humanitarian assistance. This is a 21 per cent increase compared to the year before and the highest since 2017.
And the lived reality in Syria is even more dire than figures can describe. My visit, during my time in Syria, to Aleppo gave me a first hand glimpse. I spoke there with women, men and children about the profound effects of more than ten years of conflict. Children asked for help to learn, to receive health care, and for fuel to survive the upcoming winter. Women-headed households spoke of the challenges they have in finding income, almost none of them having such income available, as well as for their families to survive.
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