Thursday, February 2, 2023
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Thursday, February 2, 2023

Syria into 2023: Out of the frying pan into the fire

As the world is entering a new year, all predictions for Syria are gloomy. The UN agencies and other NGOs said that for Syria, 2022 was a year of calamities in every sense of the word. The same organizations predict that 2023 will be even worse and unprecedentedly catastrophic.  

Binish in Idlib province; Credit: Mohannad Zayat/OCHA

Putting aside the current political stalemate, and the sporadic military and security confrontations among the parties that have a strong presence in the country, the living conditions this year will be worse than in all previous years since the crisis began and Syrians will witness more deteriorating humanitarian and economic conditions never experienced before.

The UN portrayed a worrying picture of the situation in Syria for 2023. Two weeks ago, the UN Syria Special Envoy, Geir Pedersen, and the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Martin Griffiths, said that this year the number of people who need support would be 15.3 million.

the situation remains most dire, especially in camps for the displaced

Geir Pederson

“Syrians are facing an ever-deepening humanitarian and economic crisis – inside and outside the country, and in both government-controlled areas and areas outside government control, where the situation remains most dire, especially in camps for the displaced,” said Mr. Pedersen, warning that this “bleak humanitarian and economic picture is bad enough; add to it the continued armed conflict and the dangers of military escalation, and the potential for catastrophic deterioration is all too real.”

Mr. Griffiths in his turn said that the vast majority of Syrian families are either unable to, or at the very least struggling to meet their basic needs, adding that the poverty rate in Syria has exceeded 90% and the unemployment rate has increased to 83%, while about 12.4 million Syrians do not know where their next meal will come from.

Millions are suffering and dying in displacement camps, while resources are becoming scarcer and donor fatigue is rising

An IICISAR Report

The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic (IICISAR) in its 50-page report covering the period from January 1 to June 30, 2022, states that “Syrians face increasing and intolerable hardships, living among the ruins of this lengthy conflict. Millions are suffering and dying in displacement camps, while resources are becoming scarcer and donor fatigue is rising.”

According to the report, tens of thousands of Syrians remain forcibly disappeared or missing to date. The report blames Assad government forces for continuing to inflict “cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment” on the relatives of the missing by deliberately concealing the fate and whereabouts of the missing, adding that many of those, mainly women, who search for their loved ones are arrested, extorted and abused.

Millions of Syrians are still displaced, two million of whom are living in tents, camps, and makeshift shelters, even during sub-zero winter temperatures. Electricity and fuel are scarcer than ever while many people are unable to access clean water and healthcare.  

The country saw a resurgence in cholera this year, with more than 60,000 cases and 100 deaths. According to WHO, there were 92 deaths and 35,569 suspected cases of cholera between the 25th of August and the 9th of November 2022. What is worse is that the number of cholera cases continues to increase rapidly.

The conflict continues to drive the largest refugee crisis in the world, with 6 million people displaced from their homes within Syria and more than 5 million refugees living in neighboring countries

The WHO report says that the governorates depending on the Euphrates River for water and sewage remain among the most affected as the water level continues to decrease, reaching a similar level to 2021, with an impact on electricity supply as well as water quality, production, and distribution.

The conflict continues to drive the largest refugee crisis in the world, with 6 million people displaced from their homes within Syria and more than 5 million refugees living in neighboring countries including Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey, the majority in extreme poverty. Their return to Syria is expected to remain low. Syrian refugees have the highest resettlement needs globally, with over 777,000 Syrians identified as being in need of resettlement.

“rapacious and cruel Assad government is a failure at taking care of its people outside of a select few”

Paul Sullivan

Paul Sullivan, a Washington-based political and energy analyst at the Atlantic Council, told VOA that “almost all Syrians are poor” these days, arguing that the “rapacious and cruel Assad government is a failure at taking care of its people outside of a select few,” stressing that the life of the average Syrian “just keeps getting worse.”

Syrian researcher Samir Seifan said that according to the Syrian Response Coordinators team, the war losses are estimated at about 650 billion US dollars, quoted by the Middle East Monitor. The Syrian currency against the US dollar has dropped from 50 liras in 2011 to more than 6000 liras today.

No one can foretell what could happen one year from now. The UN or the major world and regional powers must act swiftly and soon

With all of these facts and figures in mind, the solution will not be found within, as the Assad regime wants to rule forever. It will not seek a solution and as a matter of fact, it cannot come up with one. It will not concede to anyone. The only way out is external. Syrians should not be left alone. No one can foretell what could happen one year from now. The UN or the major world and regional powers must act swiftly and soon.

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