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Syrian conflict has got to stop: UN relief chief

Source:Xinhua Published: 2012-10-4 14:13:11

The brutal and violent face of the Syrian conflict has got to stop because the adverse evolution of the crisis has surpassed the originally projected financial estimate and forced humanitarian agencies to more than double their assessment, the UN relief chief said in a recent interview with Xinhua.

Valerie Amos, the UN under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, said the international community first estimated that about a million people would need help in the Syrian crisis, which broke out in March 2011. But about 2.5 million people need help.

Relief work has also been hampered by insecurity in parts of Syria and incapability to estimate the number of refugees. In addition, the UN Security Council lacks an agreed position on how to handle the crisis.

The second revised regional response plan created by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), United Nations Children's Fund, Save the Children, and the World Food Program was released last week and only one third of the 348-million-dollar funds have been raised, Amos said.

The Syrian crisis and its humanitarian impact on the region were among the top issues widely discussed during the week-long annual UN General Assembly general debate, which concluded here Monday.

The on-going political crisis has engulfed ordinary men, women and children in the Middle East country and has evolved into a situation that is really affecting all people, said Amos, who was in Syria in March this year to assess the humanitarian situation on the ground.

"We have seen some terrible pictures on our television screens, " she said. "It is important that the government and opposition forces really remember that, part of their responsibility under international humanitarian law is to protect civilians."

Amos said nearly 300,000 refugees have fled into the four neighboring countries of Syria -- Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan. "You can imagine the burden this places on those four countries," she said.

"But we need to scale up what we are doing considerably. The World Food Program has been able to reach just over 800,000 people. They would like to scale that number up to 1.5 million but security makes it difficult and we need a wider network of partners on the ground."

Amos spoke highly of China's contribution to Lebanon and Jordan to help them with the massive influx of Syrian refugees.

The contributions that have come from countries like China have been very important in helping the team meet their commitments because of the growing need that has developed, she said.

On Aug. 23, the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced that China would provide 30 million yuan (4.76 million US dollars) worth of emergency humanitarian aid for Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon.

The humanitarian aid came after a donation of 2 million US dollars through the International Committee of the Red Cross in March this year.

According to the United Nations, more than 18,000 people, mostly civilians, have died since the Syrian crisis started some 18 months ago, and a further 2.5 million Syrians urgently need humanitarian aid.
Posted in: Mid-East