Amid ‘relentless’ violence and destruction in Syria, UN deputy relief chief urges greater civilian protection

WFP prepares to deliver emergency humanitarian supplies across Syria. Photo: WFP/Hussam Al Saleh

7 December 2015 – Against the backdrop of devastating attacks on health facilities resulting in the deaths of countless health workers along with their patients in Syria, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Kyung-wha Kang today called for greater protection and assistance for Syrians caught up in the country’s four-year conflict.

“The violence and destruction is relentless, exacting a terrible toll on women and girls, men and boys,” Ms. Kang said following a five-day visit to Jordan and Turkey, where she met with Syrian refugee families. “Parties to the conflict show little regard for the basic norms of warfare,” she added.

More than four million Syrians have fled across borders in search of safety, while over 6.5 million others who are internally displaced have had to struggle to survive under extremely dire conditions.

Ms. Kang expressed concern over the fate of refugees stranded at the border between Jordan and Syria, but conveyed the hope that a swift solution can be found as winter approaches, through the close collaboration forged between the Jordanian Government and the United Nations.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), she also visited the town of Bab al Salama to see first-hand cross-border relief operations. While there, she head reports on the recent spike in airstrikes and ground fighting near the northern border, which has impacted communities across northern Syria, forcing them to flee, many for the third or fourth time.

Airstrikes are taking place where civilian infrastructure has already been severely damaged. In particular, health facilities have been routinely hit by aerial bombing, OCHA stated.

“There have been repeated devastating attacks on health facilities, and countless health workers have been killed or injured along with their patients. Alleviating human suffering – the core of humanity – is at stake,” said Ms. Kang.

“The recent Vienna talks and the follow-up represent an opportunity for a new chapter in Syria. I urge all parties to the conflict to stop the war and secure peace for families who yearn to return home and rebuild their live,” she stressed.

She expressed appreciation for the generosity and hospitality of the Turkish and Jordanian authorities and their people, who refer to Syrian refugees as their brothers and sisters, while urging them to keep the borders open for families fleeing the conflict.

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