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UN says humanitarian crisis in Syria is beyond description

February 15, 2014 at 1:27 pm

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has laid out his most pessimistic image of Syria so far, saying that the humanitarian crisis there is “tragically indescribable”. The country and the people have been destroyed to the extent that it could take years for the country to recover and move towards better conditions, said Antonio Guterres.

Speaking before the UN Congress, Guterres said, “In addition to the 3.6 million people who have been displaced internally by the civil war, the total number of registered Syrian refugees in four neighbouring countries is currently 1.1 million; last April there were only 33,000.” He added that there are a further half a million people who have fled from Syria but are not registered as refugees.

The UN official said that by the end of this year his organisation expects there to be a million refugees in each of Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, pointing out that this situation will have an unimaginable impact on the country’s economy, society and security.

According to the Washington Post, Guterres’s comments came a day after the emergence of anxiety and discomfort in Washington because of the ongoing two year old stalemate. At least 70,000 people have been killed in the fighting as opposition forces try to overthrow dictator Bashar Al-Assad.

The Post added that influential Senate members have suggested the imposition of a no-fly zone in northern Syria as well as further training for opposition forces. Moreover, according to Guterres, despite the significant international aid that has been delivered, the money is not enough to meet the needs of the people. “The UN High Commission for Refugees and its partners have received less than 30 per cent of the funding needed to help the current number of refugees, not to mention what is coming,” he pointed out.

The newspaper noted that US State Department officials presented a similar scenario at the hearing conducted by a subcommittee of the Senate foreign relations committee.