A senior humanitarian adviser to the United Nations on Syria said that the current situation in the war-wracked country is new and unlike any the team has dealt with over the last nine years due to the encroaching coronavirus outbreak.
"Humanitarian assistance has never been more critical for the entire country. All Syrians, and all those who provide assistance, are at risk," Najat Rochdi, a senior humanitarian adviser to the U.N.'s top Syria envoy, told a Thursday meeting of the International Syria Support Group Humanitarian Task Force via videoconference from Geneva.
"Humanitarian assistance has never been more critical for the entire country. All Syrians, and all those who provide assistance, are at risk," said Rochdi.
She urged the members of her team to exert extensive efforts to ensure that assistance and support reach Syrians across the country as soon as possible.
"Syria's public health system is fragile and will require considerable support to reinforce its capacity," said Rochdi.
Additional medical equipment, devices and supplies are urgently required to contain a potential outbreak in Syria.
"Furthermore, 6 million internally displaced Syrians, including 1 million displaced in northwest Syria since Dec. 1, and 1.8 million in Damascus and rural Damascus, live in conditions that make them particularly vulnerable to respiratory infections," said the humanitarian adviser.
U.N. Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen also joined the meeting.
Najat said Pedersen reiterated his call during the meeting for a complete, immediate nationwide cease-fire throughout Syria to enable an all-out-effort to counter the COVID-19 outbreak, and spare all Syrians additional suffering.
The U.N. humanitarian leadership in Syria and the U.N. regional hubs in Turkey and Jordan also briefed the task force members on urgent humanitarian access needs.
Syria has been mired in a vicious civil war since early 2011 when the Bashar Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protesters.
The country has reported 16 positive cases with two deaths so far.