Valerie Amos, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, together with Antonio Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), and William Swing, Director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) presented the appeal on 7 June in Geneva to donors and the media. According to the updated humanitarian response plans, US$ 2.9 billion are required in 2013 to cover the most essential needs of Syrian refugees and their hosting communities in Jordan and Lebanon, as well as Syrian refugees in Iraq, Turkey and Egypt. The humanitarian requirements to provide critical humanitarian response to people displaced inside Syria amount to US$ 1.4.
The European Union – Commission and Member States– have contributed so far more than 873 million euros to the Syrian humanitarian crisis. The President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, announced yesterday additional funding of € 400 million euros in form of a comprehensive assistance package, with humanitarian and non-humanitarian support for Syria and neighbouring countries, in particular Jordan and Lebanon, including the host communities there, which are most affected.
Ambassador Mariangela Zappia, head of the EU delegation in Geneva, who spoke at the launch of the humanitarian appeal, underlined that it is important “that other donors also rise up to the occasion. We owe it to the people of Syria to continue to help, to continue to push for the aid to get through.” However, Mrs. Zappia also acknowledged the limits of humanitarian aid: “We are aware that the most important aid that they can get is a country in peace. Therefore, we fully support efforts to convene a peace conference, and we hope that this conference will not lose sight for a moment that there is a humanitarian catastrophe to put an end to.”
The civil war in Syria has claimed the lives so far of more than 80,000 people. It has created 1.6 million refugees, placing neighbouring states under unbearable pressure. 6.8 million people inside Syria are now in need of humanitarian assistance, more than half of them children.
Full statement of Ambassador Mariangela Zappia at the launch of the humanitarian appeal at the UN in Geneva:
“I thank Valerie Amos and Commissioner Guterres for their presentations. Allow me to take the occasion and thank you for your and other UN agencies’ and NGOs unwavering efforts to get assistance to the people of Syria. At the previous launch last year we were already speculating about worst case scenarios for the Syria humanitarian crisis, but the reality has proven to be harsher then we were able to predict. Individually and collectively, we need to do something.
The EU has, on its part, been at the forefront of the humanitarian response. We have committed to help and we delivered. The European Union, Commission plus Member States, have contributed so far more than 873 million Euros. We have honoured our pledges in full and even more . I am pleased to announce that the EU will provide an additional € 400 million in humanitarian and development funding. As President Barosso announced yesterday, the European Commission will deploy this comprehensive package of assistance, with humanitarian and non-humanitarian support for Syria and neighbouring countries in particular Lebanon and Jordan, including the host communities there, which are most severely affected. It is important that other donors can also rise up to the occasion.
We owe it to the people of Syria to continue to help, to continue to push for the aid to get through. In this regard, we would call on the Syrian Government, if it is indeed concerned with the well being of its citizens, to allow the UN and other humanitarian actors to do their job. The Government of Syria should remove all obstacles, of whatever nature, which are currently hampering the delivery of aid. Whether we are talking about presence on the ground, permits and visas, access cross line or cross border, the Syrian Government, again, if genuinely concerned with the lives and needs of the Syrian population, should remove all obstacles. In this context, let me remind the Syrian Ambassador that the EU sanctions imposed on the Syrian Government have derogation clauses that specifically allow for the delivery of relief items to the people of Syria affected by the conflict. The EU also demands the opposition groups to ensure safe and unimpeded access for aid organisations to those in need in all areas of Syria. Only a robust and effective UN presence can guarantee a principled response and warrant the accountability of the humanitarian aid.
We must also continue to insist upon the primacy of International Humanitarian Law and to call upon all the parties to the conflict to respect and uphold the rights of those caught up, through no fault of their own, in the crossfire. I can tell you with certainty that we shall continue to stand by the Syrian people and bring them relief. But we are aware that the most important aid that they can get is a country in peace. Therefore, we fully support the US and Russia’s efforts to convene a peace conference, and we hope that this conference will not loose sight for a moment that there is a humanitarian catastrophe to put an end to.”
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