As Syria crisis enters fifth year, UN humanitarian leaders urge end to conflict

Syrian refugee children walking on a street in the Za’atari camp in northern Jordan. Photo: UNICEF/Simon Ingram

13 March 2015 – World leaders must put their differences aside and work to bring about meaningful change in Syria, where the country’s ongoing brutal conflict is preparing to enter its fifth year, senior United Nations officials have urged.

“We have expressed our horror, our outrage, our frustration as we have watched the tragedy unfold,” the UN’s senior humanitarian officials said in a joint statement, highlighting a crisis that has already claimed over 220,000 lives.

“We need world leaders to put aside their differences and use their influence to bring about meaningful change in Syria,” the statement continued. “As humanitarian leaders we are committed to continuing to do our best to help all those caught in the middle of this war.”

More than 12.2 million people continue to require life-saving aid as a result of the conflict in Syria, which began in March 2011. The conflict has also provoked massive displacement with more than 4 million people having sought refuge in neighbouring countries, while a further 7.6 million are displaced within Syria.

To raise awareness of the dire situation facing Syrians, the UN has launched the #WhatDoesItTake social media campaign to give the public, Member States and the wider international community an opportunity to express their frustrations and urge support.

In today’s statement, the UN officials called on the global community to press all parties to the conflict to end indiscriminate attacks on civilians, lift the sieges of cities where civilians remain trapped without food, enable the delivery of vital surgical and other medical supplies, and avoid the complete collapse of the Syria’s education system.

“The people of Syria – and people around the world – want the suffering to end,” the leaders affirmed. “We ask ‘what does it take’ to end this crisis? The future of a generation is at stake. The credibility of the international community is at stake.”

The statement was signed by Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos; Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zainab Hawa Bangura; Director-General of the World Health Organization Margaret Chan; Executive Director of the World Food Programme Ertharin Cousin; High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres; Commissioner-General of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East Pierre Krähenbühl; Executive Director of the UN Children’s Fund Anthony Lake; and Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict Leila Zerrougui.

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