Tuesday, Oct 21, 2014

UN says 10.8 million Syrians need humanitarian aid

In this Thursday, June 19, 2014 photo, Syrian refugee women stand outside their tent at a Syrian refugee camp in the eastern Lebanese town of Majdal Anjar, Lebanon. (Source: AP) In this Thursday, June 19, 2014 photo, Syrian refugee women stand outside their tent at a Syrian refugee camp in the eastern Lebanese town of Majdal Anjar, Lebanon. (Source: AP)
Associated Press | United Nations | Posted: June 21, 2014 11:53 am

The humanitarian situation in Syria is worsening and the number of people needing urgent help has reached 10.8 million — almost half of Syria’s population of 22 million, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Friday.

Ban’s monthly report to the U.N. Security Council said the current estimate of 3.5 million people living in areas that are difficult or impossible for humanitarian workers to reach is also likely to have increased to 4.7 million people.

The U.N. chief painted a grim picture of a country gripped by severe levels of violence, including the intensified use of barrel bombs by government forces against civilian areas and suicide attacks, reported executions and other acts of terrorism by extremist groups.

As a result, Ban said, the number of people in need has increased by 17 percent — from 9.3 million to 10.8 million.

Ban said the rules that govern the conduct of war “are being flagrantly violated every day.”

“Efforts to expand humanitarian assistance to those most in need have been met with continued delays and obstruction,” he said.

Currently, all U.N. aid must go through Damascus — a practice which U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos has repeatedly criticized.

New procedures sealing government trucks delivering aid which were introduced in April resulted in fewer people being reached with aid in May, he said, and additional clearance requirements introduced by the government have further undermined access to people in desperate need of assistance.

By June 9, only 12 percent of the 4.25 million people the U.N. World Food Program planned to provide with food had been reached compared to 26 percent at the same time in April, Ban said.

The secretary-general decried the government’s obstruction of the delivery of medicine and medical supplies, saying “it is inhumane and unlawful” that these potentially life-saving items continue to be removed from World Health Organization convoys entering opposition-controlled areas.

As a result, he said, opposition-controlled areas received only 25 per cent of the quantities distributed in the first three months of 2014.

“Tens of thousands of civilians are being arbitrarily denied urgent and lifesaving medical care” which Ban called “a deliberate tactic of war aimed at denying help and support to those most in need.”

Ban said Physicians for Human Rights reported that 29 medical personnel were killed in May, “the highest number in a month since the start of the conflict.” He said 27 were killed by government forces and two by opposition groups, bringing the total recorded deaths of medical personnel in the war to 502.

The secretary-general said the U.N. is unable to provide an assessment of the presence and activities of foreign fighters in Syria. But he said continued…

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