Statement to the Press - Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos (EN/AR)
Damascus, 16 August 2012
I have been in Syria since Tuesday to see for myself the impact of the intensifying conflict and to discuss ways to increase humanitarian assistance.
The violence has become more intense and is too often indiscriminate. All parties must do more to protect civilians. The humanitarian situation has worsened since I was here in March.
Over a million people have been uprooted and face destitution. Perhaps a million more have urgent humanitarian needs due to the widening impact of the crisis on the economy and people’s livelihoods. Back in March, we estimated that a million people were in need of help. Now as many as 2.5 million are in need of assistance and we are working to update our plans and funding requirements.
Over the last two days I have visited displaced people in Damascus and An Nabk. The families I met are tired, anxious and many have no prospect of going home any time soon. They have faced traumatic experiences and are now living in public buildings and in schools.
Their needs for health care, shelter, food, water and sanitation are growing.
I am particularly concerned that school year is due to start in September while schools are being used as shelters for the displaced. Solutions need to be found to allow term to start as normally as possible.
The UN and its partners are reaching more people with emergency aid every month. But we are only meeting some of the needs.
It’s not enough. Insecurity and restrictions are part of the problem.
But funding too is holding us back. There is more we could be doing right now in areas that are safe enough and where we have established solid partnerships with NGOs and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent. I continue to lobby the government to be more flexible in its approach to humanitarian operations. There is no reason why the ordinary Syrians – men women and children should not receive as much help as is practically possible.
I thank the donors who have supported our efforts and appeal to our international partners to contribute more generously.
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit http://unocha.org/.