In May 2020, the UN launched an appeal of $384 million to provide a multi sector response to the COVID-19 pandemic (health and non-health sectors) across the whole of Syria. There are currently 58 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Syrian Government-controlled areas, with three deaths. There have also been unconfirmed reports of infections in North West Syria, whilst the Self Administration governing North East Syria have confirmed six cases.
The UN Special Envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen, said on 19 May that despite these numbers, a risk of a wider spread is ever present and called for essential, sustained and impeded humanitarian access. The WHO has warned of an impending ‘explosion’ of cases and a possibly significant outbreak that will be difficult for the already weakened health system to manage after years of conflict.
We are particularly concerned for the welfare of Syrians in IDP camps, who due to poor, crowded living conditions, would be unable to maintain social distance. In areas not currently under Syrian Government control, it is essential that humanitarian access to life-saving services and humanitarian support is unhindered. This must be done in a way that does not increase the spread of the virus, including through support for renewal of the UN Security Council resolution on cross-border humanitarian assistance.
In Syria the UK is one of the leading donors supporting international efforts to deliver vital healthcare, water, sanitation and hygiene activities; all of which help to mitigate the threat posed by COVID-19. The UK is monitoring the situation closely and working with humanitarian partners inside Syria to respond to the outbreak and to sustain life-saving services.