Syria: Humanitarian needs escalating as crisis reaches “catastrophic” proportions

9 November, 2012
Oct 2012, Syria: Garbage disposal is a major problem for the people living in the housing complex in Adra. There is no electricity, running water or sewage system, and even windows and doors are incomplete. Credit: OCHA/ Parker
Oct 2012, Syria: Garbage disposal is a major problem for the people living in the housing complex in Adra. There is no electricity, running water or sewage system, and even windows and doors are incomplete. Credit: OCHA/ Parker

Humanitarian agencies warned today that the number of people in need as a result of the conflict in Syria is expected to rise to more than four million by early 2013. The Syria Humanitarian Forum in Geneva heard that funding for the crisis is falling short, reaching only 45 per cent of what is needed inside Syria and 35 per cent of resources to meet the basic needs of refugees in neighbouring countries. 

“The Syrians pay the price… through displacement inside and outside the country; the physical and the loss of lives that happens every day, if not every hour; the economic losses in view of the collapse of the economy, in view of the huge destruction in basic infrastructure, including the social infrastructure, including hospitals and schools and other public facilities,” said Regional Humanitarian Coordinator Radhouane Nouicer after the forum. 
 
UNHCR Regional Refugee Coordinator Panos Moumtzis said 11,000 refugees had left Syria in the past 24 hours, and that an average of 2,000 were crossing borders every day, 75 per cent of whom were women and children. 
 
“When we speak about these numbers and we hear figures of 400,000 refugees and 2.5 million people affected inside Syria, half of those are children,” said UNICEF’s Deputy Director for Emergency Operations, Dermot Carty. “As you know, this conflict has been going on for more than 18 months. In the life of a child, 18 months is a lifetime, so in many of their heads they have been going through terror for the better part of a lifetime,” he added. 
 
Richard Brennan of the World Health Organization said that a recent assessment in Homs found that about half of the city’s doctors had left, and that only 4 out of 27 doctors working for the Syrian Arab Red Crescent were still there. 
 
OCHA Operations Director John Ging welcomed new pledges of funding from the US and the UK, and said there had been positive messages from potential new donors. He added that humanitarian agencies were not able to keep pace with rapidly increasing needs both inside Syria and in the neighbouring countries hosting refugees. 
 
“The situation is catastrophic already,” said Mr. Ging. “That is a disaster which has to be understood by everybody, not as an abstract worst-case scenario prediction but actually as the reality that is unfolding in front of us every single day.”  
 
Mr. Ging said the most urgent issue for the civilian population of Syria was to end the violence. 
 
“As humanitarians, we do not have the capacity to end the conflict… but we have an obligation to give voice to that appeal from the people. And that appeal should go to the ears of those who have the political power to bring about a resolution to this conflict,” he said.