(Hatay, 26 May 2016): Stephen O’Brien, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC), called for greater assistance for Syrians in need, inside the country and across the region, at the end of a visit to Hatay in southern Turkey.
The humanitarian situation for millions of Syrians across the region remains unrelentingly distressing and dire. Some 6.5 million people are internally displaced, and some five million people have fled for safety in other countries. The United Nations estimates that 13.5 million Syrians across the region are in need of some form of humanitarian and protection assistance.
ERC O’Brien visited an orphanage in Reyhanlı, meeting Syrian children who are provided both education and a sense of normality in the classroom. “I heard first-hand the hopes of these children and the harrowing stories of many families’ escape to safety,” he said. “There is a clear need for psycho-social support.”
“I met a brave young doctor who was tragically injured during last month’s deadly airstrike on the al-Quds Hospital in Aleppo and is now in urgent need of medical assistance abroad,” the ERC added.
Cross-border aid operations from Turkey into Syria are vital, reaching some four million people who cannot be reached via other routes. Stephen O’Brien visited the zero-point near the Bab al Hawa border crossing. “I paid tribute to the Turkish, Syrian, and international NGOs who continue to work tirelessly to provide critical and life-saving assistance in a dangerous and volatile environment. We must do everything we can to support them,” said the ERC.
He discussed the progress and challenges in delivering aid with the Governor of Hatay, and representatives of international and local NGOs.
“The people of Syria continue to suffer. The violence, fear and deprivation force Syrians to make the impossible choices of leaving their homeland for a tolerable life in another part of the country or across the border or continent,” noted Stephen O’Brien. “Our challenge is both to scale up assistance to reach every person in need, and to support the efforts of those trying to bring the crisis to an end. We need to give Syrians real hope of a better future.”
Despite significant progress in reaching millions of Syrians with life-saving assistance, many programmes remain critically underfunded. The ERC urged donors to fulfil their pledges and fund the critical aid and protection activities designed to help the most vulnerable people throughout 2016.
Visiting Hatay immediately after the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, ERC O’Brien spoke of the commitments made by world leaders to put affected people affected by conflict and disaster at the centre of humanitarian action, and to alleviate suffering. “At the Summit, we heard strong words about sharing responsibility for refugees, safeguarding their rights, and working to secure the financing we need to save lives. We must now demand that these words are turned into meaningful action. It must start here in Hatay.”
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.