UN refugee chief on first mission to Syria

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UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, in Damascus where he met with victims of the conflict. Photo: Screen Shot/UNHCR

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees has committed to more than double the number of community centres that provide protection services to people displaced by the ongoing crisis in Syria.

Filippo Grandi was in Damascus on Thursday where he appealed to all parties to the conflict to allow humanitarian organizations unimpeded and regular access to besieged areas.

More than 250,000 people have died in the Syrian conflict, which is entering its sixth year.

Mr Grandi met with victims of the conflict and the aid workers who are supporting them.

Dianne Penn reports on the UN refugee chief's first mission to Syria.

Mr Grandi's first stop was at a health clinic run by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, a partner of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

Last year, their network of clinics treated over 300,000 people.

The High Commissioner also delivered seven new ambulances to the organization, and promised that more help was on the way.

He said that over the coming year, UNHCR will more than double the number of community centres that offer protection services to displaced Syrians.

Mr Grandi later visited a shelter housed in a school that is now home to about 70 families.

" I was very happy to see many community-based organisations from here are really doing their utmost; not just to provide relief to the people but also opportunities for the children to play, for women to have some activities, even to learn some skills."

The UN estimates that more than half of all Syrians have been forced to leave their homes, making Syria the world's largest displacement crisis.

This week more than 100 humanitarian organizations and UN agencies appealed to people worldwide to join them in calling for an end to the fighting.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 1’16″

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