U.N. Shifts To Long-Term Humanitarian, Structural Aid Approach In Syria

“The United Nations is shifting its aid effort for Syria to prepare for long-term help to neighboring countries to cope with the humanitarian crisis, the head of the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said on Tuesday,” Reuters reports. “Over half of [Syria’s] 20 million people need aid and around two million have fled to neighboring Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq,” the news agency notes. Speaking at a news conference in Geneva, UNHCR Chief Antonio Guterres said, “What we want from now is … a longer-term kind of approach, not only in relation to humanitarian aspects but in relation to structural aspects, namely related to those areas that are more directly impacted — education, health, infrastructure, housing, environment,” according to Reuters (Miles, 10/1). The New York Times notes, “At least 15 countries have agreed to set up special quotas for fugitives fleeing Syria’s civil war, marking a shift in international thinking about how to deal with the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis, [Guterres] said Tuesday.” The newspaper continues, “The countries, including the United States and many in Europe, agreed to help resettle civilians fleeing the 30-month-old conflict, [he] said.”

“Guterres said he hoped that the progress on aid would help efforts to convene a peace conference in Geneva and achieve a negotiated solution to the Syrian conflict,” the New York Times reports, adding, “The debate on providing more aid came, however, with renewed demands for international pressure on the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, to remove barriers to delivery of humanitarian assistance inside the country” (Cumming-Bruce, 10/1). “The president of the U.N. Security Council said Monday that many members are pressing to follow up on last week’s resolution to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons with a demand that the government allow immediate access for desperately needed humanitarian aid,” the Associated Press/Washington Post notes (9/30). “A team of international disarmament experts has arrived in Syria to begin work on dismantling the country’s stockpile of chemical weapons,” according to BBC News (10/1).