USAID urges world to address Syria humanitarian crisis • The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights
The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

USAID urges world to address Syria humanitarian crisis


The world must address the humanitarian crisis in Syria and meet the basic needs of people affected by 20 months of deadly conflict, the head of the US agency for international development said on Tuesday.
“I think the world needs to see that there is a humanitarian crisis under way,” USAID chief Rajiv Shah told AFP during a visit to a Syrian refugee camp on Turkey’s border with the war-ravaged country. “Our top priority is to meet the basic humanitarian needs of Syrians inside of Syria and in neighbouring countries,” he said.
“The United states has provided 200 million dollars in humanitarian support that we believe is reaching 1.5 million Syrians inside of Syria and in displaced communities,” Shah said.
Of that, $125 million has been directed to Syria itself to provide medical support as well as food, shelter and other basic supplies, while the rest is being used to support refugees in Turkey as well as Jordan, Lebanon and other countries. More than 40,000 people have been killed since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began in March last year, according to activists, while the UN says 2.3 million are in need of emergency aid inside Syria alone.
“Families prefer to stay where they have security, access to food, access to health and access to schools for the kids and our goal,” Shah said.
“Obviously when families are being attacked by the brutality of the Assad regime they will continue to leave their communities and seek safety and refuge.”
Another 440,000 people have fled to neighbouring countries, according to the UN refugee agency, which said on Friday that the numbers had doubled since the beginning of September.
Turkey itself is sheltering around 123,000 registered refugees, according to UN figures, while Turkish officials say the actual number is much higher if it includes exiled military and political figures as well as civilians living outside the camps.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said earlier this month that the number of Syrians in Turkey now exceeded 170,000.
“How can the world remain spectators to the crimes against humanity in Syria? We are doing our best to help Syrians and we will continue to keep our doors open,” he said during a visit to Cairo on November 17.
Shah’s visit comes as NATO is expected to formally approve deploying Patriot missiles along the Turkish border, following a series of shelling attacks from Syria. NATO experts are due in Turkey to look for possible locations for the US-made ground-to-air missile batteries.
Shah is the most senior US official to visit the Oncupinar camp in the southeastern province of Kilis, one of the largest on the border with 13,000 refugees.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is also due to visit the Turkish camps on December 7 and meet Turkish leaders including Erdogan, according to a foreign ministry official. Ankara, once an ally of the Damascus regime, is now one of its fiercest critics and has joined Western and Arab calls for Assad’s ouster amid fears that the conflict could spill across Syria’s borders.