The Stabilization Support Unit sheds light on the Syrians’ needs in northwest Syria

Representatives of more than ten countries, along with representatives of the UN, the European Union, international and local institutions/organizations, and executive and representative bodies of Syrian society, participated in a session organized by the Stabilization Support Unit in partnership with the Syrian Negotiation Commission and the Syrian Civil Defence.

                The session aimed at shedding the light on the disaster caused by the earthquake in Syria (the damages – victims – aid provided – emergency response related problems – statistics – needs – messages – testimonies – the political repercussions of the disaster on the Syrian cause). There were also interventions regarding concerns about the regime’s possible recovery or exploitation of the disaster

Keynote speakers in the session

Bader Jamous – the President of the Syrian Negotiation Commission

Salem Al-Meslet – the President of the Syrian Opposition Coalition

Abdurrahman Mustafa – the Head of Syrian Interim Government

Hani Khabbaz – the Director-General of Syria Recovery Trust Fund

Raed Alsaleh – the Director of the Syrian Civil Defence (the White Helmets)
Muhammad Hasno – the Director of Assistance Coordination Unit

Nivin al-Hotary – the Chairwoman of Women Support Unit

Ahmad Na’naa – the Head of Free Aleppo Engineers Syndicate

Mounzer Alsalal – the Executive director of the Stabilization Support Unit. Mounzer was also the
facilitator of the Session

The session was initiated by Mounzer Alsalal, the Executive Director of the Stabilization Support Unit, who welcomed the attendees and representatives of countries and international organizations. He spoke about the main objective of the session, explaining what would be presented during it. He stated that the session will focus on emergency response and relief for those affected, shedding light on the real situation on the ground and presenting the necessary requirements for providing relief to those affected and supporting affected areas

Dr. Bader Jamous, the president of the Syrian Negotiation Commission gave a briefing on the political situation accompanying the earthquake, and assured the delegates of the countries and international organizations during the session that a political solution is the beginning of ending the tragedy of the Syrian people by finding a mechanism to implement the UNSC resolutions, stating that this is the minimum requirement that satisfies the Syrian people, and without it, there will be no stability in Syria

                Dr. Bader called on the representatives of countries to deliver aid to all Syrians affected by the earthquake in Syria and to create a monitoring and transparency mechanism to ensure that it reaches those who truly deserve it. He emphasized that the priority is the return of IDPs and refugees to their homes, in the presence of a safe and neutral environment, which the regime refuses to discuss. He also stated that the return must be voluntary

                Dr. Bader also touched on the political nature of the Syrian issue, which is being diluted and transformed into a humanitarian issue. He warned against the normalization with the regime or easing of sanctions due to the earthquake and expressed his fear that the Brussels conference, which will be held to support those affected by the earthquake in Turkey and Syria, could be used to normalize relations with the regime or its allies

                Dr. Bader revealed the falsity, forgery, and exploitation of the catastrophe that the Assad regime adopted by using pictures of previously destroyed buildings, bombed by itself, and presenting them to the international community as earthquake damage

                He concluded his speech by emphasizing the necessity of stronger support for the political solution process under UNCR resolutions.Salem Al-Meslet, the President of the Syrian Opposition Coalition, spoke about the situation of Syrians in Syria and Turkey and sent a message that took the form of admonishing the international system. He pointed out that the international system was late in saving the Syrians from the humanitarian catastrophe and directed the blame to

the United Nations, which was slow in providing aid to the Syrian people and waited for the approval of the regime that had killed the Syrian people

                He called on the countries present at the session to emphasize the need for sustainable solutions for those affected and not to limit aid to just providing tents

                Mr. Abdurrahman Mustafa, the head of the Syrian Interim Government (SIG), presented the most important measures taken by the government to help those affected by the crisis, which include

Distributing free bread to those in need
Formation of a governmental committee to manage aid distribution and ensure it reaches the affected areas
Formation of a governmental committee to monitor the distribution of aid to ensure it reaches those in need
Providing all necessary facilities for the arrival and transportation of aid to the affected areas
Issuing statistics collected by local councils

The total aid that entered the northwestern regions of Syria amounted to 849 trucks and six small cars, including aid from countries, the United Nations, charitable associations and organizations, and aid from the people of Northeast Syria.
He concluded his speech by emphasizing the necessity of moving from emergency response to a permanent response and providing decent and permanent housing. He also expressed the Syrian Interim Government’s willingness to work with everyone and welcomeness of partnerships

Mr. Hani Khabbaz, the Director-General of Syria Recovery Trust Fund (the Fund), presented their response plan for the earthquake-stricken areas in northwest Syria, where nearly two million people were already living in tents before the earthquake struck. The response plan consists of several stages

Mr. Raed Alsaleh, the Director of the Syrian Civil Defence, spoke about the role of the Civil Defence in rescue operations, the difficulties they faced during them, and their work in responding to the earthquake. He also called on the international community to intensify efforts to support those affected by the earthquake.
He also mentioned the most important needs

Organizing the work and increasing efforts
Medical warehouses are out of medicines. There is a huge need for medicine, medical consumables, and equipment
Lack of medical treatment and an increase in cholera cases due to the lack of clean water
The need for a clean environment and safe places
Allocating funds for the rehabilitation of infrastructure and manpower in schools, hospitals, and public services

He also talked about things that can be done

Evaluating buildings and removing about 40,000 cubic meters of rubble
Forming an engineering committee to start evaluating the buildings in the earthquake-affected areas
There is cooperation with AFAD, which has 10,000 blocks, and they need infrastructure, water, and other services to make them habitable
He concluded by saying that the decision to open the crossings for three months is not enough, and the crossings must be opened completely for the continuation of the entry of aid. He expressed his dissatisfaction with the mechanism of dealing with the disaster by the United Nations and thanked the local efforts that were proactive in helping

The Assistance Coordination Unit (ACU), led by its Director, Mr. Muhammad Hasno, presented some statistics on the earthquake-stricken areas, including the number of affected people, the number of fatalities, the number of injuries, and the number of destroyed buildings. The role played by ACU in collecting data and information on the disaster and issuing reports on the situation

Mutasem Syoufi, the Executive Director of “The Day After, made three points
Firstly, he highlighted that the earthquake disaster emerged inspiring aspects, including the emergence of confidence in institutions produced by the revolution, such as Syrian Civil Defence and volunteering teams, while at the same time, people lost confidence in the regime and its institutions

Secondly, he discussed the issue related to the entry of international aid and the weak arguments presented for its non-entry. He questioned why the United Nations was unable to bring in aid while armies, planes, and weapons were entering continuously to support the regime in killing Syrian people since the beginning of the revolution

Thirdly, he emphasized that people did not die directly because of the earthquake, but because of the collapse of buildings. Therefore, in the reconstruction plans, it is essential to consider standard engineering requirements to prevent losses in any future earthquakes

            In his speech, Mr. Hamzah Almustafa, the Director of Syria TV, discussed several issues

The response of the United Nations to the earthquake disaster was inadequate (bad), as it only provided basic aid (Food baskets, hygiene baskets, etc..) that could have been provided by any humanitarian organization. This response was considered very weak and did not match the level of the disaster

Tents can be a temporary solution for shelter, but the camps must eventually come to an end. There are currently over 1,500 camps in northwest Syria, and the United Nations seems to be content with this situation. However, the negative impact of these camps and the social diseases that can emerge from long-term living in them are well known

The real solution to the earthquake disaster lies in development and sustainable development. Improving the road network should be a priority to facilitate the entry of aid convoys

The fundraising campaign through links announced/posted by Syria TV received 31,000 donations, and the convoy of civil aid from northeast Syria exceeded the aid provided by countries

The United Nations should reconsider its definition of the response mechanism and aid provided to northwest Syria, which currently only amounts to about 4% of the aid provided to Syria overall

The United Nations brought in 280 trucks and issued 280 permits in return. Mr. Almustafa urged the United Nations to play a neutral role and fulfill its original purpose
He concluded his speech by stating that the Syrian people are resilient and have many initiatives. In terms of movements in northwestern Syria, they are better off than other regions

Nivin al-Hotary, the Chairwoman of Women Support Unit from the city of Azaz, spoke about the reality of women and their severe suffering after the earthquake disaster, and about the people’s need for tents due to the intense fear of the continuation of aftershocks and earthquakes. She also shed light on the suffering of pregnant and postpartum women in these difficult circumstances and stressed the need to not exploit women during the distribution of relief and during the assessment and presentation of their needs. She suggested setting up special camps for women who have lost their families and paying attention to the special needs of affected women

Ahmad Na’naa, the head of the Free Aleppo Engineers Syndicate, talked about the steps and the role that the Syndicate is working on in coordination with local government agencies. He mentioned

The Syndicate has formed voluntary committees from its members and experts to evaluate buildings. Work is underway on an emergency and comprehensive evaluation of buildings. As a result, buildings are being classified based on four categories: not damaged, lightly damaged, moderately damaged, and extremely damaged (needing to be destroyed immediately)

The tents are not a solution; the solution is to build housing, and it must be based on correct engineering foundations. The Syndicate is ready to support. It is stressed that the restoration/reinforcement should be through a careful engineering study

In conclusion, the Stabilization Support Unit presented a brief report on the needs of the northwestern regions of Syria after the earthquake disaster, including relief, infrastructure, early recovery, and livelihoods. A detailed needs assessment report will be shared as soon as the translation is finalized

The following are the most important recommendations of the session

The need for an entity responsible for the equitable distribution of aid

The necessity and importance of preserving the neutral role of the United Nations

The importance of expanding the scope of the response by donor countries and international organizations to include infrastructure projects and stabilization support projects. These projects should support sustainable development, health, water (wash), livelihoods, adequate housing, and educational projects. Responses should not be limited to providing food baskets only

Supporting the road network and infrastructure of cities outside the regime’s control, to ensure the arrival of aid, linking cities, and stimulating commercial movement in order to reduce the negative impacts of the catastrophes

Enhancing confidence in revolutionary institutions, which have proven their capabilities by enhancing their capacity to respond, support and empower their cadres.

The need to coordinate between organizations in a precise and specific manner, especially in times of crisis

Thinking outside the box of camps and tents in responding to those affected by the earthquake, as there are already a large number of camps in the area. Sustainable solutions and development projects should be considered to achieve self-reliance

Finding a sustainable solution to the validity period of authorization resolutions related to the entry of aid through crossings and work to reach sustainable solutions

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