The European Union’s (EU) Humanitarian Aid Commissioner recently told the 15-member Security Council that more than 4 million people inside Syria are now displaced and could be in need of assistance. Due to increasing bureaucracy and the slow progress of peace talks, Kristalina Georgieva warned that aid into Syria had reduced to “a trickle” leaving many communities lacking in basic essentials, as well as medical and other supplies.
Due to resistance from certain country members, the Security Council is unlikely to be able to issue a resolution on access for humanitarian aid into Syria. However, members may be able to agree on a non-binding statement, though this is unlikely to lead to the kind of advances necessary for greater flows of aid. Last month, the UN’s aid chief, Valerie Amos, said that the supply of more aid into Syria would require allowing cross-border delivery, humanitarian pauses in the fighting and advance notice of military offensives.
According to one senior UN official who spoke to Reuters, talks on improving the flow of aid into Syria have been stalled over the last few weeks due to the debate on decommissioning chemical weapons. However, the EU’s aid commissioner said that any resolution on chemical arms might help in boosting aid access, since inspectors would be needed inside Syria and these people could be used to help ensure the “security and protection” required for aid shipments.
Refugee numbers continue to rise
Meanwhile, the UN Refugee Agency estimates that 5,000 Syrians are fleeing the country each day. By the middle of this month there were around 2.1 million people living as refugees, mainly in neighbouring countries.
In an announcement this week, the UK government has promised a further 100 million pounds for the humanitarian crisis, which will go to agencies providing food, clean water and shelter to displaced Syrians. This brings the total amount given by the UK government to 500 million pounds. Commenting on this spending, the largest ever for a humanitarian response by Britain, the International Development Secretary, Justine Greening, said “sadly it reflects the scale, despair and brutality of what’s going on”.
Speaking in New York at the UN General Assembly and with his comments reported by the BBC, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said “we cannot avert our gaze from the Syrian people, especially children”.
For more information about the work of SOS Children in helping families caught up in the crisis, see our Emergency Appeal.