In a scathing report released by a coalition of humanitarian agencies, including Oxfam and Save the Children, 2014 was labeled the “worst year” for civilians trapped in strife-torn Syria. In the report, released as the Syrian civil war enters its fifth year, the aid agencies faulted the United Nations Security Council for repeatedly failing to implement its resolutions in Syria, leading to a “spiraling catastrophe” that has so far led to the deaths of over 220,000 people and displaced more than 10 million civilians.

The report said that even though the Security Council had unanimously adopted three separate resolutions between February and December 2014, with an aim to provide humanitarian aid to Syrians, the resolutions had failed to translate into actions on the ground.

“In the 12 months since Resolution 2139 (calling on all parties to allow delivery of aid) was passed, civilians in Syria have witnessed ever-increasing destruction suffering and death. Humanitarian needs have increased by nearly a third compared with 2013.2 More than 11.6 million people are now in urgent need of clean water and nearly ten million people do not have enough to eat,” the report alleged. Moreover, between December 2013 and December 2014, the number of Syrian children in need of humanitarian aid had risen by 1.3 million to 5.6 million.

syria displaced people The number of people displaced in Syria. Photo: Oxfam/Failing Syria

“The resolutions, and the hope they provided, have rung hollow for Syrian civilians. They have been ignored or undermined by the parties to the conflict, other UN member states, and even by members of the UNSC itself,” the report said.

In 2014, access to aid also fell, with an additional 2.3 million people living in areas that were “difficult or impossible” for aid agencies to reach. Aid convoys departing from the Syrian capital of Damascus reached fewer people than they did the year before, and Bashar Assad's government, which is fighting rebel factions, gave permission to fewer than half of the requests from aid agencies, the report said.

syria civil war Beneficiaries reached by Damascus-based humanitarian inter-agency convoys. Photo: Oxfam/Failing Syria

Separately, another report, released by the Syrian Center for Policy Research in collaboration with the U.N., said that the protracted conflict in the country had plunged 80 percent of its population into poverty, reduced life expectancy by 20 years and led to economic losses estimated at over $200 billion. 

“The ruinous decent into poverty in Syria continued in 2014 when just over four in every five Syrians lived in poverty,” the U.N.-backed report said, painting a picture of a “systematic collapse and destruction” of the country’s economic foundations.

syria economy Total economic losses in millions of USD (at current prices). Photo: Syrian Centre for Policy Research/Unrwa/UNDP

“Total economic loss since the start of the conflict until the end of 2014 is estimated at $202.6 billion,” the report said. In addition to massive economic degradation, the education, health and social welfare systems had also collapsed completely, the report noted.