News Column

Report: Syria Is a Protracted Aid Crisis

Jan. 14, 2013

The level of aid in Syria is insufficient and foretells of a huge humanitarian disaster that will demand more planning and funding, a rights group said Monday.

A report by the International Rescue Committee's Commission on Syrian Refugees said the Middle East "once again facing a human displacement tragedy," noting that more than 600,000 Syrians have fled neighboring countries since the civil war began in March 2011.

The United Nations said the number of Syrian refugees would top 1 million if the current pace of about 3,000 refugees per day continues.

Inside Syria, more than 2 million civilians are displaced, the report said. The United Nations estimates 4 million internal refugees are in dire need.

"Current assistance levels are drastically insufficient to address existing needs, let alone the barest requirements to respond to a lengthy humanitarian emergency and post-conflict recovery," the commission, based in New York, said in its report, "Syria: A Regional Crisis."

The report said Syrian civilians struggle to survive in communities fraught with violence and chaos. Supplies of food, water and electricity have dwindled and sanitation in many areas has halted, increasing the threat of disease as medical care has become scarce.

The report also said rape was a "significant and disturbing feature of the Syrian civil war."

The IRC report said the Syria crisis will be a protracted humanitarian emergency.

"An end to the civil war will not necessarily end sectarian violence; indeed the violence could well increase," the report said. "Recovery, reconciliation and political transition will be fraught with challenges and could take years. Every country in the region is unsettled by the prospect of hostilities spilling over their borders."

The International Rescue Committee report recommended, among other things, increasing humanitarian aid, maintaining open borders for Syrian civilian refugees and offering them safe haven, expanding international assistance inside Syria, addressing violence against Syrian women and girls, investing in children's safety and healing, and preparing for a protracted humanitarian crisis.

Source: Copyright United Press International 2013

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