Syria: Security Council calls for immediate and unimpeded humanitarian access

2 Oct 2013

Undated, New York: UN Humanitarian Chief, Valerie Amos, addresses journalists at UN headquarters in New York. Credit: UN
“Our task is to turn these strong words into meaningful action for (…) the victims of the continued brutality and violence,” says UN Humanitarian Chief.

United Nations Humanitarian Chief Valerie Amos has welcomed today’s statement by the President of the Security Council condemning violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, and calling on all parties to facilitate the immediate expansion of humanitarian efforts.

The statement, endorsed by all 15 members of the Security Council, urges all parties to the conflict to agree on humanitarian pauses in the fighting, including along “key routes” for relief convoys.

“I and my colleagues in the humanitarian and human rights fields have called many times (…) for unhindered access to help us get aid to people in desperate need,” said USG Amos following the passing of the statement.

“We have called on the warring parties to protect civilians from the brutal fighting and violence – to stop targeting vital civilian services like schools, shops and hospitals, and to stop violating human rights.”

Syria has been devastated by the conflict for the past two and a half years. More than 100,000 people have been killed, and an estimated 6.5 million people – nearly a third of the entire population – have been forced from their homes.

Of these, more than 2 million have sought refuge in neighbouring countries – a situation that the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, has warned has “stretched” neighbouring countries to their limits.

Humanitarian response hindered

Ms. Amos and other senior humanitarian figures have repeatedly called for this type of united position from the international community. Humanitarian efforts in Syria have consistently been undermined by bureaucratic requirements, and by the refusal of different parties to allow humanitarian workers to cross battle lines and foreign borders in order to reach communities in need of assistance.

“Humanitarian workers need full and sustained access to reach every person in need, wherever they are in Syria, and they must be protected to do their work safely,” said Ms. Amos.

“If the commitments and practical steps in this statement are implemented humanitarian workers will be able to reach over 2 million people who have been unreachable for many months.”

Ms. Amos said that, if followed, the statement would ensure that humanitarian operations are faster and more effective, something that is especially important given the imminent arrival of winter and given that many families are living without electricity and running water.

“Ultimately, the international community must find a lasting political solution to end the suffering of ordinary Syrians,” concluded Ms. Amos.

“While the work continues to find that solution, we will use the opportunity created by this statement to increase our operations in Syria and in neighbouring countries… Our task is to turn these strong words into meaningful action for the children, women and men who are the victims of the continued brutality and violence.”

More>> The humanitarian crisis in Syria

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