News / Middle East

UN Chief Renews Plea for Syrian Refugee Aid

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, second from left, chats with Syrian refugee woman at camp in Islahiye, Gaziantep province, Turkey, Dec. 7, 2012.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, second from left, chats with Syrian refugee woman at camp in Islahiye, Gaziantep province, Turkey, Dec. 7, 2012.
Dorian Jones
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made an appeal Friday for additional international support for the hundreds of thousands of refugees who have fled conflict in Syria.

Visiting Syrian refugee camps in Jordan and Turkey, the U.N. chief expressed frustration over the lack of aid for the region's growing humanitarian crisis. With winter now fast approaching and the conflict appearing to be intensifying along with the looming threat of chemical weapons, observers warn that the crisis could become even more dire.

"I therefore call upon and appeal most urgently to the international community, and particularly the countries in this region, to provide on an urgent basis the humanitarian assistance," he said during a stop at Jordan's Zaatari refugee camp along the Syrian border. "We need your caring hands to those helpless people."

Jordan and Turkey have faced the brunt of the humanitarian fallout from the Syrian conflict.

Stopping at a Turkish refugee camp that is home to more than 8,500 Syrians, Ban also voiced anger at the increasing cost of the 21-month conflict and expressed serious concerns about reports that Syrian President Bashar al Assad is planning to use chemical weapons against armed rebels attempting to topple his government, saying it would be an "outrageous crime."

According to Zahid Huque, who is helping to coordinate U.N. humanitarian efforts with the Turkish government, Ankara's ability to meet the growing humanitarian needs is being pushed to the limit.

"So far the winter came a little late, but is now getting very, very strong, and some of the capacity of the camps is actually getting exhausted," said Huque. "The international community needs to put in lots of resources so Turkey can really expand its facilities faster than the rate of influx of the civilians."

Analysts say it would be politically difficult for Ankara to turn away refugees when poorer countries like Jordan are continuing to receive them. But even if Turkey continues with its open-door policy, it is facing new challenges. With the crisis showing few signs of ending and the fighting appearing to intensify, Huque warns that steps must be taken to address the long-term psychological needs of the refugees.

"I think the conflict itself has changed the mindset, as well as staying in a camp for a long time, away from their homes, and the rest of the family," he said. "Although the government is providing very good standards for facilities to stay in, they also need counseling support particularly."

Turkey has introduced controls on refugees entering the country, but insists no refugees are being turned away. The government has spent more than $500 million helping the refugees and made urgent appeals for international assistance.

Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Selcuk Unal said there is some frustration at the lack of response to their appeals, and warns that Turkey's ability to provide assistance is not limitless.

"Well, the open-door policy is continuing and we will try and implement it as long as possible, in order [to] help Syrian people who are escaping from persecution, from violence or the threat of violence, or sometimes certain death," he said. "But of course our means are limited, and that is why I was referring to the lack of international assistance. At the moment, we're hosting 136,000 people in 14 camps. What we have been doing is based only on our national resources."

Unal said they especially need cash, as well as containers, tents and blankets. Already thousands of Syrians are living in makeshift camps just across the Turkish border.

You May Like

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
December 08, 2012 11:12 AM
Assad won't pay for the inconvenience he has imposed on the people of Syria, it is disgusting it is called systematic genocide. It's too bad the world wouldn't do more to end Assad and his psychotic killing spree on civillians. 90% of the thousands killed are civillians.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid