Syria: Valerie Amos on aid convoy to Homs

10 Feb 2014

10 Feb 2014, Homs, Syria: A Syrian Arab Red Crescent aid workers carries a World Food Programme food parcel for people stranded in Old Homs City. A humanitarian pause in the fighting in the besieged city has allowed UN and Red Crescent aid workers to reach people who have been cut off for almost two years. Credit: SARC Homs
UN Humanitarian Chief Valerie Amos welcomes extension of humanitarian pause in Homs, condemns targeting of aid workers.

UN Humanitarian Chief Valerie Amos has welcomed the three day extension of the humanitarian pause in Old Homs City in western Syria.

“I welcome the news that the parties to the conflict have agreed to extend the humanitarian pause,” Ms. Amos said in a statement issued this morning.

“I hope this will allow us to evacuate yet more civilians and deliver much needed additional supplies.”

The initial three-day humanitarian pause – which started on 7 February - allowed UN and Syrian Arab Red Crescent aid workers to evacuate more than 800 people from Homs, and to bring food and medical supplies to people who have been cut off from humanitarian assistance for nearly two years.

Targeting of aid workers “unacceptable”

USG Amos also expressed her disappointment at the fact that the aid convoy came under fire.

“It is absolutely unacceptable that UN and Syrian Arab Red Crescent aid workers were deliberately targeted,” she said.

Read the full statement

“I am deeply disappointed that the parties were unable to hold their ceasefire in Homs. This led to 11 people losing their lives needlessly as the operations were carried out. People seeking refuge and those carrying out humanitarian operations should not be fired on.”

Ms. Amos called on the international community to press for “full accountability” of the parties to the conflict.

People are traumatized and weak

Reports from aid workers involved in the operation paint a harrowing picture of the situation in the besieged city.

“UN and Red Crescent workers told me that many of the people who left Old Homs were traumatized and weak. They also said that they witnessed terrible conditions at the field hospital in the Old City, where the equipment is basic, there are no medicines and people are in urgent need of medical attention.”

Ms. Amos called again on parties to meet their obligations under International Humanitarian and Human Rights laws, including ensuring that all wounded and sick receive medical assistance.

250,000 people living in besieged communities across Syria

Humanitarian pauses, said USG Amos, are vital to allow aid workers to access besieged communities. However, she warned that they cannot be a one-off event and that unimpeded and safe humanitarian access must be addressed in negotiations between the parties.

“As a political solution is sought to end this crisis, I hope that those negotiating in Geneva agree to allow the sustained delivery of aid to the 250,000 people in besieged communities in Syria and all those who are in desperate need across Syria,” she said.

“The people of Syria want peace, security and stability. I hope the parties hear their voice.”

OCHA Syria crisis hub>>