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UN on Syria: Humanitarian Situation ‘Dramatically Worsened’

  • Margaret Besheer

FILE - U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos.

FILE - U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos.

As the Syrian conflict moves into its fifth year with no sign of ending, the U.N.’s top humanitarian official said Thursday that the inability of the international community to stop the war means millions of Syrians will continue to suffer.

In a bleak report to the U.N. Security Council on getting aid to more than 12 million people inside Syria, humanitarian chief Valerie Amos said the situation has “dramatically worsened.”

In just the past month, she noted that the number of Syrians living in what are considered “besieged” areas has doubled, from 212,000 to 440,000. Nearly 5 million Syrians live in hard-to-reach areas.

“The inability of this Council, and countries with influence over the different parties at war in Syria, to agree on the elements for a political solution in the country means that the humanitarian consequences will continue to be dire for millions of Syrians," said Amos.

She noted that today, a Syrian’s life expectancy is estimated to be 20 years less than when the conflict started; unemployment is at nearly 60 percent, and nearly two-thirds of the population live in extreme poverty, while more than 220,000 Syrians have been killed.

Amos said that since January, the U.N. has requested access to 33 locations for inter-agency aid convoys, but only three of those have been agreed to.
“Access continues to be constrained by insecurity and active fighting, but the parties to the conflict are increasingly, deliberately obstructing the delivery of life-saving aid," she said.

Those parties include armed groups, the self-styled Islamic State, and the government of President Bashar al-Assad, which continues to impose administrative obstacles to slow aid delivery. She said in areas under Islamic State control, a number of humanitarian offices have had to close.

Despite the hurdles, Amos said the U.N. and its partners are still getting aid to millions of people each month, including through cross-border operations.
The U.N. has appealed for $8.4 billion for 2015 to cope with the humanitarian crisis. Less than 10 percent of that has been raised. The funding gap has already forced aid agencies to cut food rations by 30 percent.

Next week, international donors will meet in Kuwait in a bid to raise the badly needed funds.

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