Syrian people reduced to "very basics of survival"

9 May 2014

Millions of desperate people in Syria won't get humanitarian aid unless there is political support, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs or OCHA.

Since the conflict began, 9.6 million Syrians have been affected by the crisis, a number that continues to grow. More than 6.5 million people have had to flee their homes.

Each month, 5,000 people are killed in the country. John Ging, OCHA’s Director of Operations, says that without political will, the millions of Syrians who need humanitarian aid simply won’t get it.

Nicki Chadwick reports.

John Ging says the Syrian people have been reduced to the very basics of survival. Diplomatic efforts to end the crisis are at a standstill and the humanitarian appeal remains woefully underfunded.

The UN asked donors last December for 6.5 billion dollars. Only 20% of money needed to help people inside the country has come in and 25% of funding needed to help Syrian refugees.

John Ging says difficult access and a distinct lack of political support are also problems.

“We humanitarians have a limit on what we can do. We are never going to be the solution to the problem but we are now caught up in a very difficult dynamic, vis a vis, getting access to people. And we need more political support. We saw it, for example, when weapons inspectors were able to get in to these very difficult to reach areas. When there’s a political will there’s always a way. So we are not talking about something abstract. We have concrete examples of where there’s a political will there’s always a way to overcome these obstacles. And that’s what we are calling for the political support, to mobilise those who have influence on the ground.”

Raul Rosende is Head of OCHA’s office in Damascus.

“The humanitarian crisis is getting worse and worse. And it’s not only a matter of numbers, it’s also a matter of geography. Today, we can say that almost no place in Syria is untouched by the humanitarian crisis. We have people in need everywhere.”

And while aid agencies continue to seek ways to get emergency supplies to those most in need, John Ging says that aid efforts are continually being thwarted.

"One of the issues we have to refocus attention on is that medical supplies are being removed from convoys as part of a strategy to deny the wounded medical care. This is an abomination.”

Mr. Ging says that, while the political wheels turn slowly to bring an end to the crisis, humanitarians will not abandon the country’s people, no matter what it takes.

Nicki Chadwick, United Nations, Geneva.

Duration: 2'15"


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