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UNITED NATIONS, November 26. /TASS/. The number of Syrians who need urgent humanitarian aid has reached 12.2 million people, which is more than half of the country’s population at the moment of the beginning of the conflict between the government and opposition, the UN humanitarian chief said on Tuesday.
Valerie Amos, Under-Secretary-General for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, said some 12.2 million people — more than 5 million of them children — are now in urgent need of humanitarian assistance throughout the country. Ms. Amos said that continuing violence has forced nearly half of Syrians from their homes, many of them multiple times.
Consequently, there are now some 7.6 million people displaced inside Syria. In addition, more than 3.2 million people have fled the country, with countries in the region and communities hosting refugees bearing an “enormous burden,” Ms. Amos said.
Moreover, Ms. Amos said that despite repeated calls from the Council for the fighting to stop and “hard-hitting” reports from the Independent Commission of Inquiry of ongoing abuses of human rights, civilians continue to be killed and injured every day in Syria.
“As the situation on the ground becomes more dangerous and difficult it is even more important that humanitarian actors are able to use all tools at their disposal to reach people in need, from within the country and across borders,” Ms. Amos said. “Every day that passes more Syrian children, women and men die,” Ms. Amos said. “More look to the international community for help and support. We on the humanitarian side will continue to do all we can,” she added.
Australia’s Ambassador to the UN Gary Quinlan who is presiding in the Security Council in November said for his part that the number of those in need of urgent humanitarian assistance a month ago was estimated at 10.8 million and internally displaced persons — at 6.5 million. That is, the figures have increased by 1.4 million and 1.1 million, respectively, he told reporters after the meeting. According to Quinlan, at least 40% of dwelling houses have been destroyed in Syria, which creates major difficulties for the return of refugees to the areas where fighting has stopped.
The UN emergency relief coordinator said at the Security Council meeting that the conflict has had a destructive effect on the Syrian economy. She said Syria’s economy has contracted some 40% since 2011, with unemployment now exceeding 54% In addition, three quarters of the population live in poverty, and school attendance has dropped by more than 50%
Syrian Ambassador to the UN Bashar Jaafari told reporters that the economic losses have been caused not only by the hostilities, but also by unilateral sanctions imposed on Damascus by the rebels’ patrons.
In July, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2165 which aims at increasing access to people most in need. The document, in particular, sanctioned the delivery of humanitarian cargoes directly to the affected Syrian areas - bypassing Damascus. To this end, Syrian authorities agreed to open four additional border checkpoints. The UN Security Council president said on Tuesday that the resolution expires in early January after which it will be necessary to adopt an additional document. According to the diplomat, the Council will hold “urgent consultations” in the coming weeks on the resolution extension for 12 months. However, no serious changes will be introduced in the text, he added.
According to the UN, the conflict in Syria, which began in March 2011, has led to well over 150,000 deaths, and more than 680,000 people have been injured. It has also spawned a refugee crisis in which some 2.5 million people are being sheltered in neighbouring countries.