UN urges action to end ‘immense suffering’ of Syrians

UN urges action to end ‘immense suffering’ of Syrians
The UN humanitarian chief is calling on the Security Council to do 'everything in its power' to find a political solution to the Syrian crisis, as the humanitarian plight deepens.
3 min read
28 August, 2015
Around 7.6 million Syrians have been displaced internally [Getty]

The United Nations humanitarian chief is urging the Security Council to do everything in its power to push for a political solution to end the conflict in Syria, as he described the immense suffering and destruction he witnessed for himself during a recent visit.

“It is difficult to find words that would justly describe the depth of suffering that the Syrians face on a daily basis,” said Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien.

     Since the conflict began in 2011, over a quarter of a million people have been killed

"With all the will in the world, humanitarian action cannot be a substitute for political action. The Council must exert leadership to push for a political solution," he said.

While in Syria, O'Brien met with senior government officials to discuss ways to protect civilians and strengthen the humanitarian response.

"I urged the government to grant full and unhindered access to all people in need, wherever they may be located. It is my sincere hope that the necessary steps will be taken towards improving access, including approving requests for inter-agency and agency convoys," he said.

He also expressed his sadness at the situation and anger that the international community was not being allowed and was not able to do more to help the Syrian people.

Since the conflict began in 2011, over a quarter of a million people have been killed, a million injured, around 7.6 million internally displaced, and over four million have fled the country, O’Brien said.

These numbers are increasing as violence has escalated across the country in the last month.

Attacks by all parties to the conflict have also destroyed infrastructure, including access to basic services such as water.

"We may all be living on borrowed time. In the name of both security as well as humanity, we do need to find a better, more sustainable way forward for the wider international community to share the burden in hosting Syrian refugees," he said.

So far this year humanitarian organisations have provided food assistance for around 5.9 million people a month, medical care for nine million, water and sanitation for more than five million, and basic relief items for more than four million.

"While these numbers are significant, I regret to say that many more could be reached should unimpeded access be allowed," O'Brien said, referring to around 4.6 million people who are living in hard-to-reach and besieged areas.

During the first half of 2015, the UN has only been able to reach 12 percent of people in remote areas with food each month and 3.4 percent with health supplies.

"This shows that that accessibility is limiting the humanitarian community's ability to reach some of those who have been most affected and are most vulnerable" the organisation said.