MORGAN ORTAGUS, DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON
MARCH 3, 2020
Today in Turkey, the U.S. Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Kelly Craft, announced $108 million in additional humanitarian assistance for the people of Syria in response to the ongoing crisis caused by Assad regime, Russian, and Iranian forces. This includes nearly $56 million from the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration and more than $52 million from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). It brings the total U.S. humanitarian response to more than $10.6 billion since the start of the Syria crisis. The United States remains the largest single donor of humanitarian assistance – both in Syria and around the world. This assistance is a component of our National Security Strategy to prioritize the reduction of human suffering. We appreciate all donors who have stepped up and continue to encourage both traditional and new donors to increase their efforts to help meet growing needs.
Since December 1, 2019, attacks by Assad regime, Russian, and Iranian forces have forced nearly 950,000 people in northwest Syria – more than 80 percent of whom are women and children – to flee for their lives. This is the single largest forced displacement since the start of the Syria crisis. Today’s announcement is part of our ongoing efforts to provide life-saving food, shelter, winter clothing and other supplies, medical care, and safe drinking water to assist millions of Syrians in need, including those fleeing the devastating violence in northwest Syria. This life-saving aid will be provided through the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), International Organization for Migration (IOM), UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), World Food Program (WFP), non-governmental organizations, and others.
The international community relies on cross-border and cross-line access to deliver humanitarian assistance. And Syrians rely on aid to survive. The United States strongly supports UN Secretary General Guterres’ recommendation to open an additional border crossing between Syria and Turkey at Tal Abyad to deliver aid and medicine. Russia and China cynically conspired to hamper the international community’s ability to deliver humanitarian aid to vulnerable areas in Syria through UN Security Council Resolution 2504, which reduced humanitarian border crossings into Syria from four to two and stopped 40 percent of the medical aid to northeast Syria, increasing an already significant gap in meeting humanitarian needs. The United States also greatly appreciates Secretary General Guterres’ report to the Security Council on alternatives to the Yaroubia crossing from Iraq. The report made clear the importance of Yaroubia for the provision of medical supplies into northeast Syria and the need to reopen it or find an alternative crossing.
We join the UN in calling for an immediate ceasefire and halt to the brutal violence in northwest Syria by Assad regime, Russian, and Iranian forces, including attacks affecting schools, health care facilities, and settlements for the displaced. The United States reaffirms our support for freedom of movement for all displaced people, and safe, voluntary, and dignified returns of refugees and internally displaced persons in a process that is free from coercion. We further reaffirm our commitment to a credible and inclusive UN-facilitated political solution pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 2254.