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Syria: Humanitarian Assistance Deadlocked

MSF, New York, March 19, 2013

After two years of conflict, people in Syria are living through a catastrophic humanitarian crisis. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has been able to open three hospitals in the north of the country. Medical teams provide emergency and surgical care, as well as primary health care consultations and maternal care. MSF teams have performed more than 1,300 surgical operations and provided 16,000 consultations inside Syria.

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After two years of extremely violent conflict and a humanitarian catastrophe in Syria, aid has fallen drastically short of what is needed, and the inability to secure a political resolution of the conflict must not be used as an excuse for the failed humanitarian response, the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said.

Syria’s previously well-functioning health system has collapsed. Food shortages are commonplace, and water and electricity supply are severely disrupted. Parties involved in the Syrian conflict must negotiate an agreement on humanitarian aid in order to facilitate its delivery from neighboring countries and across front lines within Syria, MSF said. Meanwhile, governments, the United Nations, and international donors must acknowledge the country’s fragmentation and help support non-governmental aid operations. The provision of impartial aid to areas controlled by the opposition and to neglected zones must no longer be subject to sanctioning by the Syrian government.

“While the authorities in Damascus hold the key to breaking this deadlock and removing all obstacles to independent aid across the country, we call on the parties involved, for want of a political resolution, to reach at least a basic agreement on humanitarian aid to facilitate its provision through the most effective means possible,” said Christopher Stokes, MSF general director.

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