United Nations Official Say’s That Perhaps 250,000 #Syrian’s Maybe Cut Off From Aid in Besieged Communities Across the War-Torn Country #Peace

#AceWorldNews says Reporting “modest progress” with the Syrian Government on speeding up visa issuance and increasing the number of relief distribution hubs, a top United Nations official said the other that with perhaps 250,000 Syrians cut off from aid in besieged communities across the war-torn country, greater efforts are needed to ensure real gains on the humanitarian front.

Security Council“I advised the Security Council that we have seen some modest progress in terms of administrative procedures that had been put in place over time,” said Valerie Amos, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, as she spoke to reporters after briefing the 15-member body on the humanitarian situation in Syria.

This is her second closed-door meeting with the Council since it adopted, on 2 October, a Presidential Statement urging the Syrian Government to immediately allow humanitarian access to relieve the plight of civilians trapped by heavy fighting, including cross-line aid deliveries.

The statement, which called on all parties to the conflict to agree on humanitarian pauses in the fighting, with special attention to key delivery routes, also deplored the escalating violence in a conflict that has killed more than 100, 000 people and driven some 6.5 million others from their homes since opposition protesters first sought to oust the Government of President Bashar al-Assad in March 2011.

On the implementation of the statement, Ms. Amos cited progress, for example, in the Government’s decision to grant some 50 visas on an individual basis.

OCHA SyriaDamascus has also given the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) permission to open three additional relief hubs, “but only two of these will actually be helpful to us, because the third being proposed – Al Sweida – will not allow us access into Western Dera’a, which is where the hard-to-reach communities are.”

She also noted that both the Government and the opposition had indicated who the interlocutors are for the UN to try to facilitate humanitarian access.

“However, I did remind the Council that on some of the more difficult areas – protection of civilians, de-militarization of schools and hospitals, access to besieged communities and also cross-line access to hard-to-reach areas – we have not seen any progress.

“I need the Council to continue to make it absolutely clear that targeting civilians is against international humanitarian law and that we need to do greater work to ensure that the recommendations in the Presidential Statement are achieved,” she declared.

Responding to questions, Ms. Amos said that an estimated 250,000 civilians are trapped in besieged communities, while perhaps some 2.5 million were in hard-to-reach areas – places that aid workers have been able to reach but not frequently enough to make any real headway against the overall needs.

Asked if a Council resolution – which carry legal obligations for UN Member States ¬– would improve the situation, Ms. Amos said: “My focus is on how what has already been agreed can be put into effect. Should the Council agree on a resolution, then we will operationalize that.”

Indeed, while the UN and its partners have made gains in reaching civilians across the strife-riven country, in the context of the scale of the crisis, “this is far too few to meet the needs of the people. Of course the issue is what is the best means to reach people in need? For me, the unity of the Security Council is the key here.”

Meanwhile, UN agencies continue pressing ahead with relief efforts, now rushing to fortify desperate civilians against the oncoming winter season.

UNICEFBriefing the press in Geneva today, Marixie Mercado, spokesperson for the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned: “The scale of the humanitarian response needed for the looming winter is unprecedented, as the number quadrupled as compared to the previous year.”

She explained that in December 2012, there were approximately 1.15 million children affected by the crisis inside Syria, with an additional 232,000 Syrian children living as refugees in neighbouring countries.

As the conflict approaches its fourth year, those numbers have skyrocketed to 4.3 million and 1.2 million, respectively. UNICEF has worked since early October to equip children as quickly as possible for the cold. Blankets, plastic sheeting, winter clothing and hygiene kits are being distributed, along with wintered tents and fuel to heat classrooms.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees ...

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Representation in Cyprus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For its part, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has commenced an emergency airlift of urgently needed winter supplies to reinforce its stockpile in northern Iraq with relief items for up to 50,000 vulnerable Syrians.  A UNHCR-chartered Boeing 777 landed at Erbil airport on Monday carrying 90 metric tons of relief items to help 4,400 families over the winter months, including plastic tarpaulins, thermal blankets, sleeping mats, jerry cans and kitchen sets.

“While UNHCR has adequate stocks inside Iraq to meet the immediate needs, we want to ensure that sufficient items are on-hand to address any developments,” said UNHCR’s Amman-based Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Amin Awad. “The relief items we are airlifting will reinforce the UNHCR-led winterization regional response as temperatures are starting to drop across higher altitude areas in the Syria region.”

English: An armored vehicle from the United Na...

English: An armored vehicle from the United Nations (UN) World Food Program (WFP) leads a convoy of UN vehicles in procession carrying the remains of bombing victims from the UN Office of Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq (UNOHCI), as the arrive at , , during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. The bombing victims remains will be airlifted to their respective home countries for repatriation. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Elisabeth Byrs, spokesperson for the World Food Programme (WFP), told reporters that the agency dispatched enough food for over 3.4 million people inside Syria in November, mainly to internally displaced families in 13 governorates, and had reached eight more locations, which had been inaccessible in recent months.

However, she said WFP remains gravely concerned about the fate of many Syrians still trapped in conflict zones throughout the country, including around Damascus and in Al Hassakeh, where some areas have been without food assistance for six consecutive months.

WFP aims to reach 4 million people inside Syria every month, as well as to provide assistance for nearly 1.5 million refugees in neighbouring countries.

 

#aceworldnews, #bashar-al-assad, #damascus, #iraq, #middle-east, #peace, #presidential-statement, #syria, #syrian-government, #syrians, #unhcr, #unicef, #united-nations, #united-nations-high-commissioner-for-refugees, #united-nations-security-council, #world-food-programme

UNCHR and WFP Providing New Grant of £6.3 Million of Lifeline Assistance to Help Congolese Refugee’s

The Coat of arms of the Democratic Republic of...

The Coat of arms of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A new £6.3 million grant to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the UN World Food Programme (WFP) follows a sharp increase in the number of refugees who have fled fighting and unrest in the North Kivu and Orientale provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo since the start of the year.

Existing aid supplies in the region have been severely depleted following a sharp rise in refugees in the region.

In total, since the beginning of 2012, over 115,000 new Congolese refugees have been assisted in Uganda, with more arriving on a daily basis.

International Development Minister Lynne Featherstone said:

Thousands of families who have fled into Uganda could face hunger and destitution unless aid agencies get the supplies they need. Our support will help families to survive and begin to rebuild their lives.

Logo of United Nations Refugee Agency.Version ...

Logo of United Nations Refugee Agency.Version made by user Kashmiri. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The UK’s funding will allow UNHCR and WFP to continue their support to refugees in in Bundibugyo, Kisoro and Koboko districts in western Uganda along the border with DRC, including transit centres and settlements.

UNHCR and its partners have provided shelter, household items, healthcare and nutrition, water and sanitation services, and various protection activities for children and adults while the WFP has provided food rations.

Britain’s support will enable the UNHCR and WFP to continue their support into the first quarter of next year. This will include:

  • Purchase of full food rations for 105,000 refugees for a period of 3 months.
  • Registration, transport, shelter, health services and clean water for 40,000 new arrivals.
  • One health centre and one school constructed and opened in Kyangwali refugee settlement.

WFP provides food that is cooked for refugees while they are at the transit centres, and then provides monthly family rations when they are relocated to settlements.

UNHCR supports refugees countrywide through five transit centres and eight settlements in north and southwest Uganda and in Kampala. Over 65 per cent of the more than 234,000 refugees in Uganda are from the DRC with most of the remainder originating from South Sudan, Somalia, Rwanda and Burundi. About 70 per cent of refugees have arrived in the last five years.

#aceworldnews, #democratic-republic-of-congo, #koboko, #lynne-featherstone, #north-kivu, #uganda, #unhcr, #united-nations-high-commissioner-for-refugees, #world-food-programme

#Syria has fully co-operated with Joint OPCW-UN Mission to Destroy Chemical Arsenal #Peace

150 px

150 px (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Syrian Government has been fully cooperating with the destruction of its chemical weapons programme, the head of the joint mission of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the United Nations today said.

“To date, the Government of Syria has fully cooperated in supporting the work of the advance team and the OPCW-UN Joint Mission,” said Special Coordinator Sigrid Kaag in a <“http://www.un.org/sg/offthecuff/index.asp?nid=3144“>statement from Damascus.

She noted that the timeframes are “challenging” given the goal of eliminating the country’s chemical weapons programme in the first half of 2014.

Inspections so far have been conducted at 17 sites, the OPCW confirmed today. At 14 of these sites, the inspectors carried out activities related to the destruction of critical equipment to make the facilities inoperable.

“The Technical Secretariat continues to assist Syria in Damascus in finalising its initial formal declaration covering its chemical weapons and related facilities,” the OPCW noted on its website.

Meanwhile, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is racing against time to help Syrians prepare for oncoming winter as temperatures across the region are already dropping.

Spokesperson Adrian Edwards <“http://www.unhcr.org/526659cb6.html“>told journalists in Geneva that UNHCR relief aid has been delivered to some 2,500 people who have now been evacuated from Mouadamiya in Rural Damascus, where thousands are still believed to be trapped.

In addition to monitoring the general condition and protection concerns of these internally displaced people, UNHCR delivered relief items including mattresses, blankets, cooking sets, hygienic supplies and other aid.

WAGGGS-UNHCR badge

WAGGGS-UNHCR badge (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Humanitarian agencies have been denied access to Mouadamiya for months, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Its chief, Valerie Amos, reiterated in recent days calls on all parties to agree an immediate pause in hostilities there and to allow humanitarian agencies unhindered access to evacuate the remaining civilians and deliver life-saving treatment and supplies in areas where fighting and shelling is ongoing.

Last week, through local partners, UNHCR delivered aid within the hard-to-reach city of Raqqa to more than 10,000 people. Raqqa, located in northern Iraq, hosts internally displaced people from Deir es Zour and from Aleppo, 160 kilometres to the west.

“UNHCR observed that many of the displaced are living in buildings that lack windows, doors and electricity. People in this area will soon urgently require thermal blankets and plastic sheets to deal with winter temperatures,” Mr. Edwards said.

The conflict, which began in March 2011, has claimed over 100,000 lives, sent more than 2 million people fleeing for safety to neighbouring countries and displaced 4.5 million within Syria.

“Virtually every town and city across Syria is affected by the conflict or hosts traumatized, displaced people,” the spokesperson said.

Women told us they lacked privacy in the collective shelters, Mr. Edwards noted. He added concerns about the vulnerability of women, many heading broken households.

In addition, the UN agency is worried about the impact of the crisis on young people, almost two million of whom have dropped out of school and a growing number of which are being exploited for labour or recruited into armed groups.

 

#council-of-ministers-syria, #damascus, #edwards, #opcw, #organisation-for-the-prohibition-of-chemical-weapons, #peace, #prohibition-of-chemical-weapons, #syria, #unhcr, #united-nations, #united-nations-high-commissioner-for-refugees

UN-Urges-Countries-to-Ensure-Safe-Passage-for-#Syrians-Fleeing-Conflict

Flag of United Nations Refugee Agency

Flag of United Nations Refugee Agency (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With the numbers of Syrians seeking safety in Europe on the rise, the United Nations refugee agency <“http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/search?page=search&docid=526108d89&query=Italy“>said today it is concerned about difficulties displaced people face during their passage and at borders, including the risk of drowning at sea.

Melissa Fleming, chief spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), cited the case of a boat carrying between 400 and 500 Syrians and Palestinians that sank in the Mediterranean last Friday. Only 200 people have been rescued.

“We are disturbed that the cause of the tragedy could well be attributed to shots that were fired after the boat left Libya, injuring four passengers and damaging the hull,” Ms. Fleming told a news conference in Geneva.

The same day, she noted, a boat sank just off Alexandria in Egypt with an estimated 112 passengers on board, 40 of whom were Syrian. Twelve bodies were recovered, including five children. The survivors are being held in detention facilities in two police stations.

They were among a growing number of Syrians trying to cross the Mediterranean from Egypt to Italy because of anxiety about their security, according to UNHCR. Many mention physical assaults, verbal threats, detention and deportation.

The Egyptian Government estimates that some 250,000 to 300,000 Syrians currently reside in Egypt, of whom more than 122,000 are registered with UNHCR.

Between January and the end of September, at least 7,557 Syrians and Palestinians arrived on the coast of Italy, including 6,233 since August in 63 boats. This compares to about 350 Syrians in 2012. Most of the Syrian refugees that reach Italy continue on to other countries in Europe in search of asylum.

UNHCR was particularly concerned about the increasing number of unaccompanied children making the voyage. As the cost of travel can range from $2,000-$5,000 per person, some families opt to send their children alone or with relatives or friends.

“UNHCR notes with concern that over 800 Syrians have been arrested in Egypt since August for attempting to illegally depart and 144, including 44 children, have been deported to third countries,” said Ms. Fleming.

“Although charges have not been laid, approximately 589 Syrians remain in administrative detention, including women and 84 children. UNHCR is seeking access to the detained in order to properly verify numbers, conditions, and needs, or provide legal assistance,” she added.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees ...

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

UNHCR recognizes that a number of countries in North Africa are increasingly affected by the displacement caused by the Syria crisis, placing additional demands on their infrastructure and resources. Given the dramatic needs of Syrian refugees, which are likely to continue and grow in the immediate future, reinforcement of capacity to receive them in North African countries is increasingly urgent, the agency stressed.

UNHCR is working with Governments, the European Union and other partners to put in place a comprehensive response to saving lives of refugees and migrants at sea. It is calling for a number of measures to prevent further tragedies and increase responsibility sharing.

Generous approaches to protection are needed, Ms. Fleming noted, including non-penalization of those arriving without identity documents, offering flexibility in the application of family reunification criteria and procedures, dispensing with certain visa requirements, and facilitation of the entry of Syrians for work, study, family or humanitarian purposes under national programmes.

More than 100,000 people have been killed since opposition groups first sought the ouster of President Bashar Al-Assad in March 2011. The conflict has also sent 2 million people fleeing for safety to neighbouring countries and displaced some 4.5 million people internally.

 

#peace-acenewsservices, #alexandria, #bashar-al-assad, #egypt, #european-union, #italy, #refugees-of-the-syrian-civil-war, #syria, #syrian-people, #unhcr, #united-nations-high-commissioner-for-refugees