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UN: Syrian People 'Suffering Grievously'

  • Larry Freund

Injured Syrians arrive at a field hospital after an air strike hit their homes in the town of Azaz on the outskirts of Aleppo, Syria, Aug. 15, 2012.

Injured Syrians arrive at a field hospital after an air strike hit their homes in the town of Azaz on the outskirts of Aleppo, Syria, Aug. 15, 2012.

NEW YORK — A top United Nations official said Wednesday that the Syrian people are "suffering grievously" from what he described as the “appalling further militarization” of the conflict in that country.

In a report to the United Nations Security Council, the U.N. Under Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, said the Syrian government and the opposition are focusing on military operations, with government forces using heavy weapons on population centers.

We view the rapid deterioration of the humanitarian situation with growing alarm. About 2.5 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, while the number of displaced [people] in Syria and the refugee flows to neighboring countries is growing," he said.

The U.N. emergency relief coordinator, Valerie Amos, told reporters that the most urgent needs in Syria are for health care, shelter, food, water and sanitation. Amos, who was in Syria last week, said the humanitarian situation there has worsened since her visit there in March. She said the United Nations is providing food to hundreds of thousands of Syrians, along with hygiene kits, blankets and other basic items.
But, she added, it is not enough.

Not when we’re dealing with the needs of an estimated 2.5 million people. We face problems with access to people in need, particularly where there is intense and ongoing fighting. But funding is also holding us back. If we had more resources, we could reach more people," she said.

The United Nations Security Council is scheduled to hold a ministerial-level meeting next week that is expected to focus on the humanitarian crisis in Syria. Amos said she hopes the council will be unified in asking the Syrian government to continue to open humanitarian access and will make it clear to the government and the opposition that civilians should be protected. She said the Syrian government is now very reluctant to allow large international humanitarian groups to work in Syria.

Meanwhile, in his report to the Security Council, U.N. Under Secretary-General Feltman warned that as the crisis in Syria continues to worsen, the situation in Lebanon has become more precarious.

Feltman said the need for continued international support to the Lebanese government and the Lebanese Armed Forces is increasingly important.

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