LONDON: The UK government has been warned that “unimaginable” and “catastrophic” damage could be caused if cross-border aid is not delivered to people in northern Syria as coronavirus is set to sweep the region.
Labour’s spokesperson for international development, Anna McMorrin MP, urged Downing Street to apply pressure on the UN Security Council to guarantee the delivery of aid, after the council voted in December to close half the official entry points to Syria.
In a letter to UK Secretary of State for International Development Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP, McMorrin wrote: “The omission of UN Security Council support for the renewal of two crossings at Al-Yarubiyah and Al-Ramtha, bordering Iraq and Jordan respectively, in north east Syria is already significantly (hindering) the ability of the UN, partners and humanitarian agencies to continue to provide aid to populations in need.”
She added: “Currently the only way the international community can take action to prepare, prevent and respond to COVID-19 is through cross-border aid … Global leaders cannot allow the incubation of the virus, which threatens the lives of the most vulnerable and may also jeopardize the health of citizens at home if a second wave stemming from low-income and fragile nations is the result of our inaction.”
At least 4 million people in northern Syria rely on aid brought through the country’s official border crossings, according to the UN.
The World Health Organization recently said fewer than two-thirds of Syria’s hospitals were operational, and around 70 percent of all Syrian medical staff had fled the country, due to the civil war that has ravaged it for the past nine years.
Social distancing for internally displaced Syrians living in camps is all but impossible, while testing for COVID-19 is a hugely challenging enterprise, according to the Red Cross.
Medical and personal protection equipment destined for the embattled north, meanwhile, is regularly held up by the Syrian regime.
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