Under-Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos: Security Council Briefing on Syria, Tuesday 16 July 2013

Thank you for the opportunity to brief the Council on the regional crisis – not a crisis in Syria with regional consequences – requiring sustained and comprehensive engagement from the international community. The security, economic, political, social, development and humanitarian consequences of this crisis are extremely grave and its human impact immeasurable in terms of the long term trauma and emotional impact on this and future generations of Syrians. Family and community networks destroyed; Syria's reputation for secularism and tolerance eroded, with sectarianism on the rise and the long term consequences of internal displacement and significant refugee flows unknown. We are not only watching the destruction of a country but also of its people.

When I last briefed the Council I spoke of the impact of this crisis on all Syrians. That remains the case today with rising levels of unemployment, the currency in free fall, vital infrastructure destroyed including schools and hospitals, electricity and water supplies disrupted with damage to physical infrastructure, lack of personnel and limited investment.

WHO has repeatedly warned about the heightened risks of communicable disease outbreaks, including water-borne diseases such as diarrhea, typhoid, cholera and hepatitis. Vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles, have reappeared due to a drop in national vaccination coverage.

6.8 million Syrians require urgent humanitarian assistance, 4.2 million are internally displaced, 50 per cent of those requiring assistance are children. Syrian refugees in neighboring countries now exceed 1.7 million. High Commissioner Guterres will brief you on this in more detail. Of the 525,000 Palestine refugees hosted in Syria, UNRWA estimates that 420,000 require humanitarian assistance. And the latest assessment from WFP and FAO shows 4 million people unable to meet their basic food needs. These statistics hide an unfolding of a human tragedy.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:

To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit http://unocha.org/.