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Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos: Remarks to the High-level Segment on Solidarity and Burden-sharing with Countries hosting Syrian Refugees

News and Press Release
Originally published


Geneva, 30 September 2013

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Madam Chairperson, High Commissioner, Excellencies, Friends and Colleagues,

My colleagues have already set out the dire consequences of the unprecedented humanitarian crisis that is forcing people to flee Syria, putting an unbearable burden on its neighbours and the wider region.

This is not a Syrian crisis – it is a regional crisis with huge implications for global peace and security. Inside Syria, four million people are internally displaced and the number is increasing by the week. Many have moved several times in search of safety.

Behind these numbers is a human tragedy unfolding. Every number represents a child, a woman - ordinary men and women and children - caught in a crisis whose brutality is almost unimaginable. Over 100,000 have been killed. Sectarian attacks are on the rise, and sexual violence and the use of children in the conflict is rising every day. We must not become immune to these horrors.

Despite the humanitarian community’s commitment to stay and deliver in Syria, access problems are preventing us from reaching many of those in need. Entire suburbs and towns are deliberately besieged or cut off by fighting. Dozens of checkpoints block main roads between towns and cities.

It is clear we have a protracted crisis that goes well beyond what humanitarians can do.

We all recognize that refugee-hosting countries are making a great sacrifice in keeping their borders open, and we are deeply grateful to them for their compassion and solidarity towards Syrians in need. But our words of support are not enough, we must do more; challenge the way we are currently working.

It is clear that neighbouring countries will need support for many years. This requires a comprehensive regional approach, including development partners and financial institutions and humanitarian organizations, implementing a multi-year programme of support for Governments and communities. While continuing to support Syrian refugees, we must build resilience in host communities and address concerns about social cohesion, security, stability and access to social services.

I support calls from neighbouring countries for a joined-up comprehensive approach in this regard and the UNDP Administrator’s call for humanitarian and development efforts going forward ‘hand in hand’.

We are grateful for all the financial contributions to date, supporting a comprehensive approach.

It is in all our interest to find long-term solutions to the crisis. All members of the international community should show solidarity but also do more to help with the consequences of the Syrian crisis. We can’t leave it to Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.

I will close by repeating what I and my colleagues have said many times: this crisis will end with a political solution, not a military victory. I hope that the Security Council will come together this week to agree a statement on the urgency of humanitarian action.

Everyone with influence on the parties to the conflict must put pressure on them to begin negotiations as soon as possible. The fighting has to stop.

In the meantime, we must do everything we can for Syrians in need, and for the countries and communities that have shown such generosity in hosting them.

Thank you.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.