4 March 2020 - Brussels

A letter to EU Foreign Ministers: Put an end to violence in Northern Syria

Displacement camp in Idlib, North West Syria

Save the Children has written to EU foreign ministers and the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs urging them to take collective action to stop the suffering of children in Idlib, North West Syria.   

The dangerous escalation of violence in Northern Syria is having drastic consequences for civilians. Over the past two months, more than 970,000 people, mostly women and children, have been forced to flee horrific violence in Idlib, North West Syria, where they face sub-zero temperatures living in displacement camps and shelters that do not provide adequate protection from the elements. Families fled with nothing but the clothes on their backs and they are now in urgent need of life-saving supplies to survive. Having fled extreme violence, they find themselves facing life-threatening cold and unsafe conditions. Families should not have to choose between dying from bombs or dying from the cold.

 Until now the EU’s collective voice in response to this intensifying crisis has been silent. As a major international actor and leading donor on the crisis, the EU, together with its Member States, has a responsibility to speak out. Ahead of the informal Foreign Affairs Council (Gymnich) meeting on 5-6 March at Luznica, where you will discuss the situation in Idlib, we urge you to issue an EU statement agreeing the following collective action as the EU:

  • Urgently call on all parties to the conflict to put an immediate halt to the escalation in violence which has led to alarming levels of displacement and extensive destruction of critical infrastructure. More than half a million children have been displaced in the last two months, while the fighting and the worsening humanitarian conditions has resulted in the deaths and injury of many. The protection of children and their families is of paramount importance, and a lasting cessation of hostilities must be implemented without delay. There are no alternative options for safety for the population of North West Syria, and they have nowhere further to flee to.
  • Urgently call on all parties to immediately end violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, including all grave violations against children.
  • Urgently call for rapid, safe, unfettered and sustained humanitarian assistance to be available to all those in need in Syria, via all routes and modalities. Bureaucratic and political impediments should not be allowed to prevent children from the lifeline they so desperately need.  The current levels of displacement in North West Syria are the highest ever witnessed throughout the course of the conflict in Syria, with close to one million people currently displaced, while numbers in excess of that remain in need of humanitarian assistance to survive.
  • Commit to continue humanitarian funding to people in need throughout Syria, including those impacted by the emergency response in the North West, as well as those experiencing dangerous conditions in camps in the North East.
  • Agree and announce an EU-led International Conference on the situation of Syria. The European Union-hosted Brussels Conference on Supporting the future of Syria and the region has been an important forum for securing dedicated international support for the political and humanitarian dimensions of the conflict in Syria and for ensuring that Syria’s children are not forgotten. A new international conference, with situates the dire humanitarian situation at the heart of discussions, is an absolute necessity. 

Save the Children is working with Syrian partner organisations on the ground to keep children and their families alive and protected, but the humanitarian response is completely overwhelmed. We urgently need your support to ensure that the violence ends.