UN Must Address Syrian Humanitarian Tragedy

While the UN issued the biggest financial appeal in its history, a humanitarian tragedy is unfolding in Syria and for Syrian refugees abroad.

al-monitor Syrian refugees watch the convoy of Oxfam Chief Executive Mark Goldring as he visits Al-Zaatri refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq, near the border with Syria, April 30, 2013. Photo by REUTERS/ Majed Jaber.

Topics covered

syrian, geneva, diplomacy

Jun 9, 2013

Having the United Nations issue the biggest financial appeal in its history on Friday, June 7, 2013 — asking for more than $5 billion in humanitarian aid to Syria — transcends the political debates that are taking place and should restore the primacy to address this Arab tragedy for all parties concerned. Whatever might be the arguments of the Syrian conflict — described by Antonio Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, as “the most dangerous crisis since the end of the cold war” — it seems to me that political debates at this moment have to calm down and address this humanitarian tragedy.

The World Food Program says it is now providing food for around 2.5 million people — one million more than at the start of the year — and it expects the number to rise to four million by the end of 2013. This unraveling humanitarian tragedy is a blot on international diplomacy, particularly when postponing the Geneva II conference until July is even being considered.

It seems that the diplomatic and political dimensions of the crisis remain oblivious to the ongoing tragedy of Syrian refugees and the growing bloodletting taking place. Let’s hope that the seriousness of the tragedy will prompt the convergence of a common policy that would arrest the escalation of violence and expedite a rational resolution of the Syrian people’s tragic experience. Needless to say, the urgency of the unprecedented humanitarian crisis and its ramifications across the region cannot afford any ongoing postponement.

Clovis Maksoud is a former ambassador and permanent observer of the League of Arab States at the United Nations and its chief representative in the United States for more than 10 years.

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