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Syria Facing Worst Humanitarian Crisis Since 2015


United Nations Syria envoy's Special Adviser Jan Egeland attends a briefing after the meeting of the humanitarian task force on Syria in Geneva, Switzerland Feb. 1, 2018.

U.N. humanitarian adviser Jan Egeland warns Syria is facing the worst humanitarian crisis since 2015. He is calling for a humanitarian pause to allow the delivery of life-saving aid to hundreds of thousands of civilians trapped in besieged areas.

Egeland says the last time a U.N. aid convoy reached a troubled area was November 28. That delivery, he notes, was only for 7,000 people in a country where hundreds of thousands are being denied food, medicine and other essential relief.

He says this is the worst situation since 2015, when U.N. aid workers were denied access to millions of starving people.

"This is a war where armed men are specializing in suffering of civilian populations," he said. "... I am so fed up with the counter-arguments that these men in offices and men in suits and uniforms always have to ask why they are not allowing cross-line [aid] to the civilians on the other side."

Egeland is calling on Russia, Turkey and Iran to pressure their Syrian clients to let humanitarian aid reach the many men, women and children in desperate need.

He says the vicious war in Syria has created a displacement crisis of catastrophic proportion and has left the civilian population totally unprotected. He cites the city of Raqqa as an example of a place where civilians are in constant danger.

He says the war in Raqqa has left the city littered with thousands of unexploded ordnance, putting many lives at risk. Since Raqqa was retaken from Islamic State militants in mid-October, he says these weapons have wounded 534 and killed 112 people who have returned to the city. That, he says, averages out to around 50 civilian casualties a week.

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