News / Middle East

UN: Syrian Humanitarian Crisis 'Bleak'

FILE - U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos addresses a news conference at the United Nations in Geneva, March 2014.
FILE - U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos addresses a news conference at the United Nations in Geneva, March 2014.
Margaret Besheer
The U.N.’s humanitarian chief painted a bleak picture Friday of the situation in Syria, saying the plight of civilians has not improved and that millions remain in dire need since the Security Council united in demanding better aid access five weeks ago.

Valerie Amos told reporters after her private briefing to the 15-nation council that the situation for millions of desperate Syrians has not gotten better and will not improve unless there is “full and unhindered access.”

“I told the Council that we need to see a significant step-change in the speed and scale of humanitarian aid, if we are to save lives and keep pace with the ever-growing needs," she said. "This piecemeal approach, despite the best efforts of humanitarian workers on the ground, is not delivering change fast enough.”

On February 22, the council, in a rare show of unity on Syria, unanimously adopted a resolution demanding both sides end attacks on civilians, including the use of barrel bombs, and give unhindered access to humanitarian relief operations. The council also called on the parties to end sieges on cities and towns, lift bureaucratic obstacles, and allow aid convoys to cross conflict lines and international borders to reach the 3.5 million needy Syrians in hard-to-reach areas.

Since the resolution’s adoption, limited aid has been delivered to several hard-to-reach areas, but there have been occasions when convoys could not proceed or were prevented from carrying essential items, such as medicines. And of the eight border crossings the U.N. wants to use, the government has only opened one of them to aid convoys in the past month.

U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said President Bashar al-Assad’s regime is the biggest obstacle to the delivery of aid. “The Assad regime’s murderous appetite for deploying artillery, barrel bombs and air strikes against civilians in Syria - despite this council’s specific call that these types of attacks stop - is the No. 1 factor driving displacement and the broader humanitarian crisis.”

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said on his way into the briefing that while the situation is “very difficult,” he believes there has been “some progress in implementing” the council’s resolution.

Non-compliance with the resolution could lead to further steps. But Najib Ghadbian, the Special Representative of Syria’s main opposition coalition in New York, told VOA by phone that it will be difficult to get strong action in the council because of Russia, which has been the Assad regime’s closest ally throughout the conflict.

“We have a case that cries for intervention and we should not allow one country on the Security Council to obstruct the working of this body,” said Ghadbian.

The use of so-called barrel bombs by the government has been condemned by human rights groups as a war crime. Asked by a reporter why his government uses them, Syrian Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari, sarcastically asked if they should replace them with missiles, and then denied the government uses them against civilians.

Ambassador Ja'afari: “We drop weapons against terrorist groups, not against civilians.”
Reporter: “So you don’t deny that you are dropping barrel bombs on civilians?”
Ambassador Ja'afari:  “No, but we are using this against terrorist groups coming from Turkey and sponsored by…”
Reporter: “But they are landing on civilians.”
Ambassador Ja'afari: “No, we are not killing civilians. These civilians are our own people.”

He went on to say that such images were propaganda broadcast by Syria’s enemies and blamed civilian deaths on the “dirty petrodollars” coming from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey that are financing the regime’s opponents.

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Comment Sorting
by: meanbill from: USA
March 29, 2014 7:18 PM
MY OPINION? .... Valerie Amos is a bias British subject, and she does what the US, EU, and NATO countries want first and foremost...
Valerie Amos wants to deliver the UN aid to the anti-Assad terrorist fighters first in Syria, and the Syrian government wants the UN aid delivered to the Syrian civilians first....
Valerie Amos wants to bring food and medicine, and give medical aid to the anti-Assad terrorist fighters first, and not the Syrian civilians.... (to Valerie Amos, that's fair?)....

by: ali baba from: new york
March 29, 2014 5:06 AM
it is so bad and so sad that people have to suffer . people are killed . people are injured. people left their home and become refuge. the question . what is the causes of war in Syria. .the cause of the war is the religious fanatic whom supported from oil rich countries . these countries supply weapons ,money ,and woman . they have license to kill and destroy lives. Saudi Arabia has to tried for international court for inciting violence and crime against humanity. .
In Response

by: ali baba from: new york
March 29, 2014 8:27 PM
do not blame us and European countries . . they have nothing to do with this conflict .it is two faction of Islam Shia and Sunni. Saudi and gulf countries instigate the conflict because Bashar Is a Shia . the conflict of Shia And Sunni is two deep .sad am Hussein use chemical weapons against Egypt they prosecute Shia and last year five people killed because they are Shia .the same situation in Pakistan
In Response

by: meanbill from: USA
March 29, 2014 6:35 PM
The Syrian war would never had begun, if the US, EU, and the 27 other NATO countries, didn't support and supply the weapons to the anti-Assad terrorist fighters, and help foreigners to fight Assad in Syria....
Like Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq, and now Syria? .. Blame the western US, EU, and 27 other NATO countries for all the violence and wars...
(Everywhere the US, EU, and the 27 other NATO countries interfered, thousands on thousands of innocent people died, and are still dying today, aren't they?).... BLAME THEM?
In Response

by: Anonymous
March 29, 2014 6:35 PM
The biggest cause of the Syrian war is none other than bashar al assad. He must be brought to justice at ALL costs by the international community. A tribunal set up for the killing of thousands, atrocities, and genocide. Of course there is other criminals but he is the first one that needs to be dealt with. He seems to think that he can murder or destroy anything he wants in Syria. The world has news for him...
In Response

by: Xaaji Dhagax from: Somalia
March 29, 2014 10:14 AM
ali baba, how about Bashar al Assad? Should he be brought to justice for gassing thousands of his own people? Or the world must consider the killing of children and women by Bashar al Assad's thuggish army as collateral damages?

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