Expert Opinion

Syria in 6 months’ time: Why we must act now to fill the aid void

In a recent report by ACAPS’ Syria Needs Assessment Project, four possible scenarios were projected for Syria in the next six months.  Here we look at the scenario projected as being the most likely in the report, where a continuation of the conflict increases political and military fragmentation.

1/3 of the population will have been displaced

By the start of 2014, it is projected that 7 million people will have been displaced in Syria, with 10 million in need of life saving assistance.   Displacement will become increasingly fluid with an increase in localised, sudden displacement related to chemical attacks and coordinated attacks on specific villages causing large numbers to flee.

Outbreak of diseases

Access to water and widespread breakdown of sanitation and hygiene structures will increase the risk of severe health problems, with an estimated 35% of water treatment plants being damaged. In parallel, the further breakdown of health services will mean that medical professionals are in short supply, and vaccination coverage will reach particularly critical levels.  There will be increased outbreaks of typhoid, measles and other communicable diseases, and children and pregnant mothers will further struggle with malnutrition, particularly in the north.

Influx of IDPs to government controlled areas

As fighting  focuses around front lines, the government controlled areas, perceived as safer, will witness an influx of IDPs from contested areas.  Shelter will become a core concern, pushing up rent prices and causing overcrowding in collective centres.  Schools will no longer be able function as they host the incoming IDPs, stalling education for yet more children (according to the Ministry of Education, almost 2 million children dropped out of basic education between 2012 and 2013).

Increased instability in contested areas

Radicalisation around ethnic or religious affiliations will cause serious security and protection concerns for people living in the contested areas of Syria.  A lack of law and order will lead to more retaliations, revenge killings and the rape and sexual abuse of women.  Due to the volatile and insecure nature of displacement, IDPs are often particularly vulnerable to such abuses.

Fewer places to flee

While the border regulations of neighbouring countries remain unchanged, the number of people fleeing across the border may decrease in parallel to the deteriorating humanitarian situation in those host countries.   This will exhaust the coping mechanisms for displaced people on both sides of the border, with the needs of both host communities, refugees and IDPs becoming yet more dire.

This week, the United Nations General Assembly have an opportunity to get humanitarians on the ground now in order to start building a different future for Syrians. IDMC urges global leaders to not forget the millions of nameless victims trapped within this long-running conflict by taking tangible steps to support access for humanitarian actors.

To download the report from ACAPS, go here

In a report on the situation of internally displaced people in Syria from Chaloka Beyani, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of IDPs, he calls on all parties to the conflict to: “Provide space to United Nations agencies, international non-governmental organisations and non-governmental organisations to develop adequate responses to meet the needs of internally displaced women, children and other groups with specific needs; implement prevention activities through empowerment of the community, psychosocial support and awareness-raising to mitigate risks; and enhance community resilience.”

Recent statement by Jan Egeland, the Secretary General of NRC  on immediate ‘unimpeded access to humanitarian assistance’ for the Syrian people.