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Roadblocks for relief must be lifted

Source: Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) - Wed, 15 Jan 2014 14:08 GMT
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Girls play on a swing in a damaged street full of debris in Deir al-Zor May 21, 2013. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi. www.trust.org
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“Refugees and relief workers in and around Syria will be watching Syrian and world leaders as they gather in Kuwait and Geneva. They need to end the free fall of millions of innocent Syrian civilians. The atrocities must stop and the roadblocks for our relief must be lifted,” said Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council Jan Egeland Wednesday, as donors gathered in Kuwait and peace mediators in Geneva.

More aid is needed inside Syria. That is one of the demands from Syrian civilians who have been able to flee. The refugees are interviewed in the Norwegian Refugee Council’s brief “Demands from Syrian civilians”:

“We ask you to provide immediate support to our people and our Syrian brothers at home, especially those trapped by the regime in the Yarmouk refugee camp and Moadamyeh and other besieged cities and towns. Provide humanitarian assistance and food and medical aid as soon as possible, because the children, women and the elderly are no longer able to stand it,” says Mahmud (18), who fled Dera’a in March 2013 and now lives in Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan.

"There is a need for humanitarian support from the UN to the people inside Syria. If we get support, I can go back to Syria," says Jomma (60) from Qamishly, who has been living in Domiz refugee camp in Iraq for a year.

More than 2.3 million people have fled from Syria to the neighbouring countries, and it is expected that the number may increase to 4.1 million before the end of 2014. In addition, 6.5 million people are displaced within Syria. The UN’s appeal is the biggest humanitarian aid appeal in history, amounting to approximately 6.5 billion dollars. On Wednesday, world leaders are gathering in Kuwait for an international donor conference aimed at raising the necessary funds.

“We are faced with the largest humanitarian challenge since the turn of the millennium, and there is an urgent need for funding. However, humanitarian assistance and donor money cannot substitute for political pressure. Only by pressuring the parties of the conflict to abide by international laws and to provide humanitarian organisations access, can we be able to help those in areas of Syria currently cut off from assistance, and who are struggling to survive from one day to the next,” says Egeland.

“Syrian civilians are starving and dying of treatable diseases because parties to the conflict prevent us from providing life-saving humanitarian assistance. There has to be consequences for those who are responsible for breaking humanitarian law,” he adds.

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