UN says more than 13 million Syrians need aid, protection

UN humanitarian chief says more than 13 million Syrians now need aid and protection, an increase of 1.2 million in just 10 months

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O'Brien talks to the press in Damascus, on August 17, 2015

About 13.5 million people in Syria, including more than six million children, are now in need of humanitarian aid and some form of protection, United Nations humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien said on Tuesday.

O’Brien told the UN Security Council that the figure represented an increase of some 1.2 million people in just 10 months caused by the worsening conflict in Syria.

O’Brien said the conflict in Syria created "One of the largest displacement crises of modern times. Fighting and violence has forced over half of the people in Syria from their homes in a period of just over four years, many of them multiple times."

"There are now some 6.5 million people displaced inside Syria. In addition, nearly 4.2 million have fled the country, with neighboring countries in the region bearing an enormous burden," he said.

A boy walks amid damaged buildings in the town of Douma, eastern Ghouta in Damascus, Syria on October 26, 2015 (Reuters)

The Syrian civil war made the country the world’s single-largest source of refugees with more than 4 million fleeing the country and 6.5 million being displaced inside the country.

The conflict has also claimed more than 250,000 lives since 2011.

One of the Syria’s neighbors, Turkey is now the world’s largest refugee-hosting country with more than 2 million Syrian refugees in its territory.

Europe faces the worst refugee crisis since World War II, with hudreds of thousands of refugees fleeing the war and conflict in the Middle East and Africa.

O’Brien said more than 50 percent of the 680,000 arrivals by sea in the Mediterranean in 2015 were Syrians, adding that "They have a right to seek asylum without any form of discrimination."

Syrian refugees call for help and empty water from their flooding raft as they approach the Greek island of Lesbos on October 20, 2015 (Reuters)

O’Brien also stated that at least 120,000 fled their homes in northern Syria since early October due to the aerial bombardment and ground offensives among the parties.

"This includes some 45,000 people displaced from the southern outskirts of Aleppo city to relatively safer areas to the west and south following a government forces offensive over the last week," he said.

In Syria’s largest city, Aleppo, pro-government and opposition forces continue to shell civilian areas where hundreds were killed in September, O’Brien said, adding that DAESH cut the main access route from Hama to western Aleppo due to an offensive.

O’Brien said attacks were relentlessly carried out on health facilities and health workers. Since the beginning of recent offensives five hospitals in Hama, Idlib and Aleppo have been attacked, causing casualties and closure of hospitals.

Despite its best efforts, the UN has only reached some of the 4.5 million people living in hard-to-reach areas who are in need of assistance, O’Brien said.

TRTWorld and agencies