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New humanitarian plans for the Syria crisis: Civilians in Syria feel abandoned

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The new humanitarian plans for the Syria crisis reflect the international community´s failure to reach far too many of the civilians in Syria. “Civilians displaced inside Syria feel increasingly abandoned,” says Jan Egeland, Secretary General at the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).

”Civilians inside Syria are telling us that they are feeling increasingly abandoned and isolated and they are losing hope. The outside world is failing to reach, protect and assist too many of the civilians trapped in the Syrian cross-fire. It is an outrage that medical and other life-saving relief is blocked by the government and armed opposition groups. They are getting away with the most horrific crimes against humanitarian law and humanitarian principles,” says Egeland, who Monday visited Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan.

The humanitarian plans released Monday predict a continuation of the violent conflict and economic decline in Syria. By the end of 2014 it is estimated that up to 4.1 million people will have fled the country and registered as refugees in the region. In the new plans, the UN and humanitarian organisations appeal for 4.2 billion dollars to humanitarian assistance in the neighbouring countries and only 2.27 billion dollars for the work inside Syria, where many times as many people are in need of assistance.

”The appeals reflect that the international community is failing to reach a large number of the civilians affected by the war in Syria,” acknowledges Egeland.

He requests a substantial change of pace in the effort to increase access to civilians inside Syria:

”There is no time to lose. To get aid to the people in need inside Syria, and into areas where access is currently limited, has to be our main priority in the year to come. The UN Security Council, political leaders and the organizations on the ground, we all need to work continuously to secure people access to aid, and all parties to the conflict need to allow humanitarian organisations to do their work”, says Egeland.

The temperatures have dropped below zero in many parts of Syria and the neighbouring countries, and at the moment it is not enough assistance to ensure that vulnerable civilians will be able to survive what is predicted to become a particularly harsh winter. The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) is upgrading community centres where people can take shelter and handing out winter kits to people displaced inside Syria. NRC is also working to prepare refugees in the wider region for the cold winter weather. Sunday the organization started the distribution of 20.000 gas heaters to Syrian refugees in Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan.

Feel free to contact Director of Communications Rolf Vestvik (+47 48893313) or media adviser Tiril Skarstein (+47 905 69 287) if you have questions, or would like photos, interviews or more information.