United Nations: Ordinary people paying the price in Syria [EN/AR]
(Cairo/New York, 3 December 2012): As the situation in Syria deteriorates on a daily basis, risks faced by those in and leaving the country continue to mount.
The increasing insecurity is making it more difficult for humanitarian actors to operate and to address the needs of affected people. “We are looking at how we can adjust our methods of work so that we continue to reach as many people in need as we can throughout the country,” said Radhouane Nouicer, the Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for Syria. “To that end, we are currently reviewing our contingency plans, as well as updating the Syria Humanitarian Assistance Response Plan (SHARP). Most of all, we need an end to the unrelenting violence. All calls, from all sides, for parties to honour their obligations to protect civilians in Syria have had little effect, and ordinary people are paying the price,” he said.
A recent mission by the UN Refugee Agency to Homs in Syria found dire conditions, with displaced people staying in inadequate shelters and lacking health care. Inside Syria, the number of internally displaced is more than 1.2 million, with four million people in and around the country affected by the crisis. People urgently need medicines and health care, shelter, winter items, safe drinking water, and fuel, among other items. Almost 2,000 schools and other public buildings are hosting the displaced; many lack adequate heating, sanitation and winterization. Temperatures are falling, and expected to drop close to freezing in December. Medical care is increasingly hard to find, due to shortages of staff and supplies, as well as damages to facilities. In addition to direct exposure to violence, people, especially children, confront a growing threat from unexploded ordnance and explosive remnants of war.
The numbers of refugees registered or awaiting registration in other countries (currently 465,000) is now approaching a half a million, with over 50,000 fleeing in the last two weeks. Refugees who flee the country cite generalized violence, including during their attempts to flee, targeted threats against individuals and their families, and a breakdown of basic services as the reasons they fled their country.
There are already more refugees in Lebanon than projected for all of 2012.
“Despite difficult circumstances, the UN and its partners have made real achievements in Syria, reaching 1.5 million people with food on a monthly basis and distributing more than 300,000 family sets with essential relief items. While this is still not enough, we need to keep up the momentum, on behalf of all Syrians in need,” Mr. Nouicer said.
This week, the conflict in Syria will enter its 90 th week.
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit http://unocha.org/.