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Al-Araby al-Jadeed/Agencies

UN aid chief paints harrowing portrait of Syria war

The humanitarian situation in Syria will worsen if war continues, Amos has warned (AFP)

Date of publication: 29 May, 2015

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Outgoing UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos warns that the destructionin Syria will worsen, and urges world powers to set differences aside to end the war.

UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos said in her final address to the Security Council on Thursday that the Syrian war is having a more devastating impact every day, and urged the member states to put aside political differences and find a solution. 

Amos told reporters after the briefing that she has appealed to the council to again consider a referral to the International Criminal Court, a proposal that Russia and China vetoed last year, as well as sanctions and other measures to hold those responsible for violating international law and council resolutions accountable. 

Amos painted a grim picture of Syria's deterioration, saying that since the council adopted a resolution in February 2014 demanding access everywhere in Syria to deliver desperately needed humanitarian aid the number of people in urgent need of assistance has increased by almost a third, to more than 12.2 million people today.

She said 442,000 people, nearly twice the number than when the resolution was adopted, are under siege. She lamented that the UN  and its partners were unable to reach any besieged locations in April.  

"An additional 540,000 people have been displaced this year alone adding to the 7.6 million already displaced," Amos said.  "Another nearly four million people have sought refuge in neighbouring countries, placing host countries and
communities under unbearable pressure." 

Since Amos became undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs in July 2010 the death toll in Syria has soared to more than 220,000

Amos told the council she has watched "the huge rise" in the number of people affected by conflict and natural disasters, from an estimated 70 million in 2010 to 114 million today. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recently called her "a giant," for her humanitarian work around the world. 

Amos called for "a major rethink of humanitarian response efforts" to examine "who does what, who pays for it and greater investment in conflict prevention, disaster preparedness, peace and state building." 

As for Syria, where she has devoted the most time and attention since taking the job, Amos paid tribute to humanitarian workers who have provided food and water to millions of people and to Syrians and those in neighboring countries who have helped and sheltered the displaced.  
These should not be the only signs of hope," Amos said. "The big hope is for a political solution." 

Amos is being replaced by British lawmaker Stephen O'Brien.  

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