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Corona's effects on the humanitarian situation in north-eastern Syria

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The Covid19 pandemic crippled the world’s movement and cast a shadow over millions of people. It made governments mobilize their full potential: political, economic and even military, which until now seems insufficient to end or contain the pandemic, at least while it is spreading continuously in the absence of a treatment. There is no doubt that in a country like Syria, which has been suffering from a devastating conflict for nearly ten years, the pandemic will have this catastrophic impact, seeing the unstable security situation and the lack of the necessary infrastructure to confront it. Meanwhile, the war continues.

This situation requires Syrian people to make double efforts to mitigate the risk of infection with the virus, in light of the almost complete absence and collapse of the state and its institutions, especially the health sector. In the face of this catastrophic situation we are trying through this paper to shed light on the situation in northeastern Syria and to suggest a set of measures that may help Syrians to address the crisis together.

Health status. The health sector in north-eastern Syria suffers from major weaknesses in its infrastructure, a shortage of medicine and medical materials, and a severe shortage of medical personnel as a result of the ongoing instability in the three governorates due to the ongoing conflict and continued displacement. There are many urgent needs in this sector, including corona tests, artificial respirators, oxygen cylinders, oxygen generators, field hospitals, sterilizers, all types of medicine, and masks and protective clothing. Health sector workers, being vulnerable to being infected with the virus, are in dire need of all these materials.

Local parties. There is no doubt that this situation greatly exceeds the capabilities of local parties having to deal with this global catastrophe, but this does not negate their responsibility or reduce their chances of seeing the virus spread exponentially. This situation should be dealt with wisely, through inclusion and participation, making smart use of the available resources, and installing the following procedures: 1. Stopping all forms of conflict and announcing a ceasefire so that all the sides can use all their capabilities to deal with the virus; 2. The political parties should put their differences aside and work together, which would also contribute to rebuilding confidence; 3. Local authorities should adhere to transparency standards in announcing the detection of cases of infection and disclosing the numbers of infected persons and their places of residence, so that all individuals who have been in contact with the infected people can take the necessary measures; 4. Abolishing all kinds of monthly financial obligations that are due to be paid by citizens, in addition to developing a plan to compensate families and individuals with low incomes so that they can secure their needs and adhere to the quarantine; 5. Strict control over all companies, individuals and parties who seek to take advantage of the situation by raising prices and take strong measures against violators; 6. Issuing clear and strict instructions to prevent entrepreneurs and companies from arbitrarily laying off any worker without fair compensation; 7. Tightening the medical and preventive measures in the camps to avoid the spread of the epidemic in these locations; 8. Installing strict medical and preventive measures in prisons and taking all measures to prevent the spread of the epidemic. All political detainees should be released; 9. The Internal Security Forces and military forces must step up action to address the epidemic. In cases of natural disasters, security and military forces have a great role in protecting societies, thus controlling quarantine.

International parties: All countries suffer from the effects of this pandemic, which affects cooperation and solidarity between countries. At the same time, it increases the obligations of the richer and economically stronger countries towards the poorest countries. This widespread virus also increases the burden on international organizations such as the United Nations, the European Union, and the World Health Organization. All actors must work together to tackle this global humanitarian catastrophe. The following steps should be taken: 1. The Security Council must pass a resolution declaring a global truce and stopping all forms of conflict not only in Syria but in all countries. In addition, all export and import of weapons should be halted, to stop conflicts and also to limit the spread of violence and crime. It is time for the Security Council to take bold measures to build real peace and security; 2. The international community must provide all healthcare necessities, as Syria is considered a fragile and devastated countries after ten years of war; 3. The Security Council must reactivate Resolution 2165 and open border crossings, such as the Yarbia crossing and other crossings. The Russian government should not obstruct the implementation of this decision; 4. The United Nations, donor countries and international organizations should reconstruct humanitarian aid, especially healthcare, paying attention to the most densely population areas first; 5. The Turkish government must stop all types of military operations, and it must end its operations to close the water station in the village of Al-Aluk, since hygiene is the most effective way to counter the virus; 6. We recommend the Kurdistan Regional Government to open the border to aid entry without any restrictions so that all types of aid can be transported except for what constitutes a violation of the quarantine; 7. All parties should continue to provide support to local organizations, as stopping support would undermine anti-virus efforts, and also continue to support health programs and civil defense projects.

Civil community. Civil society organizations and public opinion leaders are making tremendous efforts to address the spread of the virus by providing all kinds of support. These efforts can be more effective and produce great results through the following set of measures: 1.Increasing coordination and working together to build a unified database so that efforts are not repeated, or aid is distributed repeatedly; 2.Developing a long-term response plan beyond the end of this epidemic so that it can also address its long-term effects on the lives of citizens; 3.Continuing and intensifying awareness efforts and combating the dissemination of false information on social media; 4.Intensifying efforts to form volunteer working groups and teams in order to assist families and individuals who are unable to leave their homes to provide for their daily needs, provided all necessary measures are taken to avoid infection; 5.Enhancing coordination with local authorities in order to promote effective and positive cooperation.

Finally, the Corona virus indeed poses a major challenge for humankind, but at the same time, it may represent a great opportunity to increase cooperation and build joint mechanisms of action that transcend differences and problems. Therefore, we call on everyone to put their differences aside and work together for the common good.

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