This week, the Syrian government and their allied armed forced took full control of Aleppo, a major turning point in the conflict. This came after tens of thousands of people were evacuated from East Aleppo.
The international community has watched this process very closely to make sure civilians are allowed to leave safely and that their rights are respected. We welcomed the news when the UN Security Council resolution passed, which called for UN staff to monitor the evacuations in the city. It was a positive step but could be considered to be too little too late, as it was decided upon just days before the evacuation was complete. Unfortunately there were incidents during the evacuation and reports of some civilians being killed.
The world is watching as Syrian families pay the price of a violent and complex political conflict. Throughout the Syria crisis – and all humanitarian emergencies - Oxfam and the humanitarian community advocate that civilians’ rights to be safe, to have access to food and water, health care and more must be respected - no matter the politics surrounding a conflict. This should be a non-negotiable.
Across Syria, 13.5 million men, women and children are in urgent need of humanitarian aid and protection. The winter temperatures are dropping now and many are living without real shelter, warm clothes and other necessities.
Oxfam has helped more than 2 million people, including Syrian refugees living in Jordan and Lebanon, as well as communities inside Syria. In Aleppo, Oxfam supplies including hygiene kits are being distributed, and we are providing clean water – from handing water bottles to families as they are on the move seeking safety, to supporting water distribution from large tanks on trucks, and keeping generators running to power the city’s water pumps.
The news from Aleppo this week is a grim reminder of how brutal life can be in Syria and why almost 5 million people have been forced to flee their homes and become refugees. Many people have watched the crisis in Aleppo unfold and felt helpless, but there is a way for us to make a difference: The United States may not be able to influence or end the war, but we can show support and solidarity by welcoming Syrian refugees through our resettlement program, which is the most stringent in the world in terms of security screening. It makes a real difference in the lives of vulnerable people while also ensuring that Americans stay safe. There is a real risk that Syrian refugee resettlement will be halted early in Donald Trump’s presidency. We all must raise our voices in support of Syrians – tell our leaders that we want to welcome Syrian refugees and give them a chance to find safety in the United States.
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