6.8 million need aid in Syria: UN

2013-04-19 09:05
A Syrian woman sits on the rubble of her house in the Tariq al-Bab district of Aleppo. (Pablo Tosco, AFP)

A Syrian woman sits on the rubble of her house in the Tariq al-Bab district of Aleppo. (Pablo Tosco, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

United Nations - Nearly seven million people need humanitarian assistance in Syria, a senior United Nations official said on Thursday, criticising Damascus for hampering aid distribution.

"The needs are growing rapidly and are most severe in the conflict and opposition-controlled areas" of the civil-war ravaged country, the global body's humanitarian chief Valerie Amos told the UN Security Council.

She cited data showing there are 6.8 million people in need - out of a total population of 20.8 million - along with 4.25 million people internally displaced and an additional 1.3 million who have sought refuge in neighbouring countries.

The 15-member council responded by urging both the government and the opposition to co-operate with UN agencies.

"Members of the Security Council urged all parties to ensure safe and unimpeded access for aid organisations to those in need in all areas of Syria," they said in a statement.

"They deplored the obstacles to the provision of humanitarian assistance and underlined the urgent need to remove all such obstacles, including those which are bureaucratic in nature."

3.5 million refugees

The statement also suggested that aid shipments be allowed to cross borders where necessary.

And it called on all sides to "protect civilians and respect international human rights and humanitarian law, recalling the primary responsibility of the Syrian authorities in this regard."

Amos, the UN under-secretary general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief co-ordinator, said that bureaucratic obstacles have grown since January, "inhibiting our ability to respond."

"The limitations on the ground have forced us to being precariously close to suspending some critical humanitarian operations. We are approaching a point of no return," she said.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres, addressing the UN Security Council by video link, said the number of refugees could surpass 3.5 million by the end of the year.

"These figures are terrifying. This is not just frightening, it risks becoming simply unsustainable," he said, calling for more international support for countries hosting refugees, including Lebanon and Jordan.

Funding shortfall

Amos said the number of approved nongovernmental organisations in Syria was recently cut from 110 to 29, and the UN has just been told that every truck needs a permit signed by two ministers to pass government checkpoints.

"When I tell the Council that a convoy from Damascus to Aleppo goes through 50 checkpoints - half of them government controlled - you will appreciate the impossibility of this request."

"We cannot do business this way," she said, adding that 21 visa applications are still pending, and a request to import 22 armoured vehicles has still not been approved.

The needs are most pressing in border areas, she said, adding that in the region around Aleppo, "contrary to some widely held perceptions, aid flows across the Turkish border have significantly reduced in the past two months.

"So we are not reaching those most urgently in need of our help," she said.

Despite the difficulties, the World Food Program helped nearly two million people in March, and UNICEF and its partners have supplied drinking water to 5 million people, Amos noted.

As for funding, she said the UN had received about half of the $1.5bn needed for humanitarian aid to Syria until June, including a recent $300m allocation pledged by Kuwait.

"I ask those [UN] member states who have not yet converted their conference pledges to cash to do so urgently," she added.

Read more on:    un  |  valerie amos  |  syria  |  aid

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


10 gorgeous plus-sized models who aren't Ashley Graham

Here are just ten of our favourite plus-sized models:


You won't want to miss...

WATCH: Pornhub is giving users free access to premium content these holidays
5 top leg exercises for men
10 best dressed men of 2017
How to open a beer bottle without an opener
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.