14 August 2012, Syria: UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos talks to refugee children temporarily living in a school in Zahera, Damascus. Credit: UNSMIS
United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Valerie Amos, expressed concern today after meeting displaced people in the Zaheria district of Damascus, at the start of a three-day visit to Syria and Lebanon.
“The people I met today told me they need clean water, sanitation, medical help and food,” said Ms. Amos. “They are frightened. Many have no home to return to and they desperately need more help and support.”
During the visit, Ms. Amos hopes to see for herself the impact of the intensifying conflict in Syria, and to discuss ways to increase humanitarian assistance. She said she was extremely concerned by what she saw and was told.
The Government of Syria estimates that 1.2 million people have been forced to flee their homes and are living in temporary shelters or with host families.
Ms. Amos also met the Syrian Prime Minister, Wael Nader al-Halqi. During the meeting, she stressed the importance of the principles of impartiality and independence that underpin humanitarian work and the need for humanitarian workers to reach all those affected by the conflict.
She called on all parties to the conflict to respect international humanitarian law and its provisions, which stress the importance of protecting civilians - ordinary men, women and children - caught up in the middle of the crisis.
Ms. Amos also met staff and volunteers of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and praised their courage.
“[They] continue to lead the humanitarian response in Syria, facing great danger and difficulty every day,” she said.