Syria: deputy UN relief chief urges political solution amid 'extremely challenging' humanitarian crisis

29 June 2015

Humanitarian access to civilians trapped by the Syrian conflict is being increasingly obstructed by the ongoing fighting in the country and a shortfall in critical funding, a senior United Nations relief official warned today.

Humanitarian access to civilians trapped by the Syrian conflict is being increasingly obstructed by the ongoing fighting in the country and a shortfall in critical funding, a senior United Nations relief official warned today.

Delivering remarks at the Security Council's briefing on Syria, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Kyung-Wha Kang, told delegates that despite the international community's efforts to find a political solution to the hostilities, violence continues with “utter impunity” leading to a spiralling deterioration of the crisis.

“Over the past month, this violence, which is perpetrated by all parties to the conflict, has neither abated nor diminished in brutality,” Ms. Kang observed. “The parties…continue to violate human rights and international humanitarian law with impunity – killing and torturing civilians, blocking humanitarian access, destroying and besieging communities.”

In its latest situation report, OCHA warned that some 12 million people in the Middle Eastern country today remain in need of humanitarian assistance – a 12-fold increase since 2011. The figures include 5.6 million children. Meanwhile, 7.6 million people have been displaced by the conflict and over 4 million have fled across borders.

The humanitarian impact of the crisis is only further compounded by the grim human toll which, as of today, counts over 220,000 people killed and over one million injured since hostilities began.

Despite the “extremely challenging environment,” Ms. Kang continued, humanitarian organizations operating within Syria and from neighbouring countries are continuing to reach millions of people in need.

However, she added, due to depleted funds, food assistance across the region is now in jeopardy and the tenuous situation inside the country has made access to the 4.8 million people in hard to reach and besieged locations “a serious challenge.”

“Given the fluid and dynamic nature of the conflict in Syria, it is crucial for UN agencies to be able to use any and every route, across borders and conflict lines, to reach those who require assistance,” said the UN official. “But these efforts require adequate resources. Only a quarter of the appeal for live saving work in Syria and the region is funded today.”

The humanitarian challenges facing the UN and other aid agencies are further impaired by the regular and indiscriminate use of barrel bombs by Government forces as well as attacks on medical facilities and the continued use of explosive weapons in populated towns and cities.

“For the people of Syria and humanitarians who assist them, it is hard to see an end to this nightmare of violence and destruction,” Ms. Kang concluded. “We look to the leadership of this Council to press for a political solution.”

 

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