UN, Red Cross alarmed over growing Syrian humanitarian crisis
By ASHLEY MARTIN
Talk Radio News Service
UNITED NATIONS - The United Nations refugee agency Friday voiced concern at intensifying clashes in Syria which have reportedly forced a growing number of civilians to seek refugee in neighboring countries.
According to various reports, anywhere between 8,500 and 30,000 Syrians have crossed into Lebanon in the last 48 hours alone.
“With the spread of deadly violence, I am gravely concerned for the thousands of Syrian civilians and refugees who have been forced to flee their homes,” the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said in a statement Friday. “I fear for the civilians caught up in the violence in Damascus, including the large Iraqi refugee population residing there,”
The office for the High Commissioner for Refugees says 120,000 Syrians have mainly fled into Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan in the past 17 months. UNHCR staff are currently in the field verifying numbers and assessing the needs of new arrivals and vulnerable populations.
International aid organization also estimate that 1 million Syrian are internally displaced, often with little access to basic resources.
The UN refugee agency is now trying to provide 175 000 people through out Syria with assistance, mainly in the rural areas of Damascus, Aleppo and al Hassakeh, places that have seen a substantial amount of fighting between rebel groups and regime forces.
The International Committee of the Red Cross is stepping up its aid efforts in Damascus this week despite an important escalation in violence through out the capital. The international organization expects the influx of refugees from Damascus to keep growing in the coming weeks.
The Red Cross says 50 of its staff members will continue their work with the Syrian Red Crescent to provide urgently needed humanitarian support to those affected by the fighting in Damascus.
“Together with the volunteers of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, we are trying to gain a better understanding of the humanitarian situation. We are continuously assessing needs,” ICRC Head of operations for the Middle East Robert Mardini said in a statement.
The International Committee of the Red Cross and Syrian Arab Crescent have provided more than 600 000 people with aid in the towns and cities of Dar’a, Homs, Idlib, Hama, Aleppo and Damascus since the Syrian crisis first broke out in March 2011.
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