Valerie Amos says UN working with some Syria rebels to provide aid

Top UN official pleads for end to violence in Mali and Syria

15.02.2013 - 11:39

Valerie Amos, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator told journalists in Brussels that the agency is beginning to work with Syrian rebels and a growing number of "community groups" to provide humanitarian aid in areas of Syria that have been difficult to access, including the contested region adjacent to the Turkish border.

However, Amos stressed that an end to the violence was vital for aid reaching an estimated 2 million people in the country who were in dire need, with a further 2 million in need of help outside the borders. Amos said the numbers needing assistance had quadrupled over the last year.

“We're expanding the number of our partners on the ground,” she said, adding that this included elements of the opposition groups. She stressed the independence and neutrality of the UN operations and are also working with the Syrian government.

Amos praised the recent donors conference on Syria, hosted by Kuwait, saying, “The international community came together and $1.5 billion was pledged.” She said that her experienced showed that funds pledged for emergency aid were delivered and not just promises.

Asked about funding requirements, she said, “For first six months, we need $1.5 billion but needs are rising all the time.” She added that, “my concern is that refugee flows into neighbouring countries could have the potential to destabalise them.” There are 700,000 refugees outside Syria with around 3,000 a day joining them.

Admitting that “a political solution continues to elude us,” she pleaded for an end to violence so that humanitarian assistance could be provided.