Maintenance. We are currently updating the site. Please check back shortly
Members login
  • TrustLaw
  • Members Portal

U.N. heads, EU call for humanitarian ceasefire in Syria

Source: Reuters - Wed, 18 Dec 2013 03:27 PM
Author: Reuters
hum-war hum-hun
A woman and her child stand over debris near a damaged site after what activists said was an airstrike by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Duma, Damascus, Syria, December 15, 2013. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh
Tweet Recommend Google + LinkedIn Bookmark Email Print
Leave us a comment

* U.N., EU urge Syria to lift aid obstacles

* EU pledges 147 million euros in aid

* WFP chief says situation continues to worsen

By Adrian Croft

BRUSSELS, Dec 18 (Reuters) - The heads of the U.N. and European Union aid agencies called on Wednesday for a "humanitarian ceasefire" in Syria to allow convoys to deliver help to areas that aid workers cannot reach.

The officials urged all sides in the Syrian war to allow free access for humanitarian groups, saying aid should not be held hostage to political or military considerations.

Calling the Syria conflict the "greatest humanitarian tragedy of our times", the aid chiefs said they feared the worst as another harsh winter threatened even greater suffering.

The statement was issued by U.N. emergency relief coordinator Valerie Amos, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres and the heads of the U.N. Children's Fund, Anthony Lake, and World Food Programme (WFP), Ertharin Cousin, with EU humanitarian aid chief Kristalina Georgieva.

The U.N. leaders were in Brussels to sign contracts which committed the European Commission to provide 147 million euros ($202 million) in aid to people affected by the Syrian crisis.

Aid workers have regularly complained that restrictions have been placed on their movement in Syria, particularly by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Blockades have been used mostly by the government but also on a smaller scale by rebels to prevent food and medicine entering besieged areas.

"A humanitarian ceasefire would allow aid convoys to deliver assistance to communities which remain out of our reach," the statement by the U.N. and EU leaders said, without specifying whether they wanted a national or a local ceasefire.

Some 9.3 million Syrians needed help, the number of internally displaced had grown to 6.5 million and more than 2.2 million refugees had fled the country, the statement said.

The United Nations appealed this week for a record $6.5 billion for Syria and its neighbours to help 16 million people, many of them hungry or homeless victims of a conflict that has lasted 33 months.

The European Commission and the EU's 28 member states have donated more than two billion euros since the start of the Syria crisis, making it the biggest donor, the EU said.

WFP Executive Director Cousin said the humanitarian situation in Syria continued to worsen.

Access problems limited the organisation's ability to reach people in need in many areas of Syria, including in both government and opposition-held zones, she told Reuters in an interview.

"The primary challenge is the areas where there is ongoing conflict ... There is blame that you can place on both sides of this conflict," she said.

"We work to be as innovative as possible, to find roads that one day may be inaccessible because they are besieged ... but the next day we can access it, so we are doing everything possible to reach as many people as possible," she said. ($1 = 0.7283 euros) (Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of the Thomson Reuters Foundation. For more information see our Acceptable Use Policy.

comments powered by Disqus
Topical content

Latest slideshow

See allSee all
Featured jobs