Getting aid to those caught up in Syria's “humanitarian tragedy”

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Valerie Amos talks to refugee children temporarily living in a school in Zahera, Damascus. Credit: UNSMIS
(14 August 2012)

A humanitarian tragedy is unfolding before our eyes in Syria, but only a political solution can solve the crisis, according to Valerie Amos, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator. Baroness Amos was speaking after the 7th Syrian Humanitarian Forum in Geneva, which focused on securing access to the millions of Syrians who are in desperate need of help.

The UN estimates that 4 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance – that's nearly one in five Syrians. Around half of those are internally displaced people. More than 830,000 Syrians have fled the country.

Baroness Amos says that insecurity continues to make aid delivery particularly difficult:

"We are crossing conflict lines, negotiating with armed groups on the ground to reach more people in need. But we're not reaching enough of those who require our help. Limited access in the north is a major problem."

But aid is gradually getting through to areas which have previously been unreachable. The World Food Programme hopes to distribute food to 2.5 million people throughout the country by April. Convoys containing tents, blankets and other essential supplies have reached thousands of people over the past week. But Baroness Amos says there's much more to do.

"We are watching a humanitarian tragedy unfold before our eyes. We must do all we can to reassure the people that we care and we will not let them down."

She says that no matter how much humanitarian assistance is given, the Syrian crisis needs a political solution as quickly as possible.

Nicki Chadwick, UN Radio, Geneva.

Duration: 1’39″

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