Top UN official urges world leaders to stay focused on humanitarian agenda

Saturday, September 22, 2012
UN Humanitarian Chief Valerie Amos
[PHOTO: UNifeed] 
New York: United Nations (UN) Humanitarian Chief Valerie Amos called on world leaders to stay focused on the humanitarian agenda as they prepare to gather for the annual General Assembly debate.

Calling 2012 "a very sober year for the General Assembly," Amos said that while the international community is still very focused on the situation in Syria, there are many crises that continue to affect millions of people in various parts of the world.

This year alone, humanitarian organizations have asked for nearly US$9 billion to provide aid to more than 50 million people in 19 countries. So far, they have only received half of the funds.  

Last month, Amos visited Syria for the second time in 2012 and met with government officials as well as aid workers from the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and the UN Refugee Agency to assess the situation and push for more access to people in need.

Talking about what she had witnessed during her two-day visit, she said "I have been shocked at some of the brutalities from both sides who are engaged in this conflict and the way that civilians have been targeted."

The humanitarian situation in Syria continues to deteriorate, with some 2.5 million people estimated to be in need of urgent humanitarian aid, including 1.2 million displaced in some 470 schools and public buildings. As displaced families continue to live in schools, thousands of children might not have access to classrooms when school term starts in mid-September, she said. 

Amos said the situation in the Sahel also requires urgent attention as the countries in that region are facing "a huge food insecurity and nutrition crisis" which is "compounded by the situation in Mali."

Fighting between Government forces and Tuareg rebels broke out in northern Mali in January. The instability and insecurity resulting from the renewed clashes, as well as the proliferation of armed groups in the region, drought and political instability in the wake of a military coup d'état in March, have led over 250,000 Malians to flee to neighbouring countries, with 174,000 Malians estimated to be internally displaced. -UNifeed
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