Syria: UN issues unprecedented humanitarian appeal

7 June, 2013
7 June 2013, Geneva, Switzerland: UN Humanitarian Chief Valerie Amos at the launch of the revised humanitarian appeal for Syria. Ms Amos is flanked by UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres (left) and the Director-General of IOM, William Lacy Swing. Credit: UN
7 June 2013, Geneva, Switzerland: UN Humanitarian Chief Valerie Amos at the launch of the revised humanitarian appeal for Syria. Ms Amos is flanked by UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres (left) and the Director-General of IOM, William Lacy Swing. Credit: UN

The United Nation’s Humanitarian Chief, Valerie Amos announced an unprecedented revision to the humanitarian appeal for Syria in Geneva today. UN agencies and humanitarian partners are appealing for US$4.4 billion to assist millions of people affected by Syria’s conflict in 2013. This is the largest humanitarian appeal ever.

“We estimate that 6.8 million people now need urgent help,” said Ms. Amos at the launch of the revised appeal in Geneva. “One in three Syrians (are) in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.”

This appeal updates and replaces the version issued in December 2012 for $1.5 billion dollars. In addition to addressing needs inside the country, the appeal covers planned humanitarian assistance to 1.6 million Syrian refugees who are living in neighbouring countries and North Africa. According to the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, this figure is projected to climb to about 3.5 million by the end of 2013.

“Ordinary women, men and children are bearing the brunt of this crisis.”

“These are massive figures but (they) mask a human tragedy,” said Ms. Amos. “Ordinary women, men and children are bearing the brunt of this crisis.”

More than 80,000 people have been killed since fighting began in 2011. Civilian infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, with hospitals, schools, and water and sanitation plants targeted. More than a third of all hospitals have been forced to close, and more than two thirds of health workers have fled.

Humanitarian operation set to expand

So far this year, humanitarian agencies have reached 2.5 million people with food, provided more than 2.9 million people with critical medical supplies emergency health and reproductive health kits, and ensured that 9.3 million people have been able to access clean drinking water.

By the end of 2013, the UN and its partners aim to significantly expand their operations, and to reach 4 million people with food rations, more than 3.6 million people with shelter and basic relief supplies, 6.8 million people with basic health care, and 10 million people with continued clean drinking water.

Ms. Amos spoke once again of the difficulties UN agencies and humanitarian partners are facing in their efforts to provide assistance to affected communities.

“We are working with a number of constraints, including the security situation on the ground and the need to have more partners,” she said.

“It is a difficult and desperate situation.”

Political solution must be found

Ms Amos closed her remarks with a renewed plea to the international community for a political solution to the conflict.

“This is not a crisis that will be solved through humanitarian efforts,” she said.

“Our job (as humanitarians) is to help as many Syrians as we can. But it is the job of the international community to find the political solution that will bring stability, security and an end to this conflict and violence.”

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