DAMASCUS – The Director of the UNDP Regional Bureau for Arab States, Khalida Bouzar, has concluded a two-day visit to Syria, where she assessed rapidly growing humanitarian needs amongst vulnerable Syrians and met senior government officials to discuss ongoing humanitarian support in Syria.
“A decade of crisis has had profound impacts on the lives of vulnerable people in Syria. There is an urgent need to deliver an inclusive humanitarian response that restores essential life-sustaining services and infrastructure such as health, education, water and power; creates jobs; and bolsters social cohesion,” said Bouzar. “Syrian communities need support to implement early recovery activities that truly reflect local priorities - before the situation deteriorates further and ordinary Syrians are plunged into even more devastating circumstances.”
The country´s protracted crisis, now well into its eleventh year, has severely affected its economy. In the past year alone, the number of Syrians in need of humanitarian assistance has risen by 20%, a level of need not witnessed since 2016. 13.4 million people across the country are now experiencing extreme and escalating levels of hardship.
“Today, the situation in Syria is intensified by a water crisis that is gripping much of the country, a deepening financial crisis in neighbouring Lebanon, and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic,” said Bouzar. “As a result, millions of people across Syria are increasingly unable to access livelihoods, income, and basic services. This is further eroding the resilience of individuals and families and undermining their ability to cope..”
Bouzar met with members of local communities affected by the crisis to better understand their needs. She spoke with shop-owners in the process of reviving their small businesses and visited a school and recently a re-opened hospital, both rehabilitated by UNDP to serve tens of thousands of residents. She also met with representatives from civil society and the private sector to understand the important role they can play in supporting Syrians to rebuild their lives.
Meeting with government officials, Bouzar renewed UNDP´s commitment to provide enhanced support in early recovery and resilience to those people most in need, particularly women, young people, Persons with Disabilities, Internally Displaced Persons, and the poorest of the poor. She stressed the importance of working closely with communities, based on their specific needs and potential, to empower them to play an active role in their own recovery.
Within the UN Humanitarian Response Plan, UNDP supports the resilience of Syrians across the country via a programme of local-level activities. UNDP’s work focuses on the rehabilitation of basic infrastructure, providing livelihoods support, enhancing economic recovery and social inclusion, and strengthening social cohesion.