News / Middle East

UN Makes Renewed Effort to Help Struggling Syrians

A man carries a bag as he walks along damaged houses in Duma neighbourhood in Damascus, Syria, Oct. 1, 2013.
A man carries a bag as he walks along damaged houses in Duma neighbourhood in Damascus, Syria, Oct. 1, 2013.
Margaret Besheer
The United Nations humanitarian chief says new action from the Security Council could help aid workers in Syria assist more than 2 million people in urgent need who have been unreachable for months.

The U.N. Security Council adopted what is known as a "Presidential Statement" Wednesday, urging the Syrian authorities to take immediate steps to facilitate the expansion of humanitarian relief operations in the country. It is a step below a legally binding resolution, but carries the weight of all 15 council members.

U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos said humanitarian workers need full and sustained access to reach every person in need, wherever they are in Syria, and they must be protected to do their work safely.

“If the commitments and practical steps in this statement are implemented, humanitarian workers will be able reach over 2 million people who have been unreachable for many months,” she said.

Only 12 aid organizations are currently authorized to operate in Syria.  The U.N. says entire suburbs and towns have been deliberately overwhelmed or cut off by fighting.  Dozens of checkpoints block main roads between towns and cities and bureaucratic impediments have hindered aid delivery to millions in dire need.

The humanitarian situation has been of concern for months, but action had been delayed by the overall paralysis in the Security Council.

That stalemate was broken on Friday, when the permanent members reached agreement on a deal for Syria to put its chemical weapons arsenal under international supervision.

The humanitarian statement was drafted by council members Luxembourg and Australia. Australian Ambassador Gary Quinlan told reporters after its adoption that there was “a need for speed” on this issue.

“We know that the regional impact is enormous, it is really potentially quite catastrophic, but the humanitarian situation inside Syria itself simply cannot be underestimated. …. Over one-third of the housing has been destroyed; and over 2 million refugees - 1 million of whom are children," he said. "One refugee is created in Syria every 15 seconds.  Since we have been speaking this morning, there are another 11 refugees in Syria.”

British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said the council statement aims to facilitate access for humanitarian relief to all parts of Syria.

“It calls on them expedite visas and permits for humanitarian personnel and convoys, to facilitate humanitarian access - including across conflict lines and across borders - and to assure their security," he said. "And it urges all parties to demilitarize medical facilities, schools and water stations.”

The United Nations is also facing a $3 billion funding gap for its humanitarian work in Syria.  Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has asked Kuwait to hold another donors' conference early next year to try to meet that shortfall.

The crisis in Syria has killed more than 100,000 people, displaced more than 4 million people inside the country and sent 2 million more fleeing to neighboring countries.

You May Like

Conflicts Engulf Christians in Mideast

Research finds an increase in faith-based hostilities, and Christians are facing persecution in a growing number of countries in the region More

Chinese Americans: Don’t Call Us 'Model Minority'

Label points to collective achievement, but some say it triggers resentment, unrealistic expectations More

Iran Bolsters Phone, Internet Surveillance

Does increased monitoring suggest the government is nervous? More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Polish Ghetto

When the Nazi army moved into the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid