UN Aid Chief Makes Final Appeal on Syria

May 29, 2015  

Outgoing UN aid chief Valerie Amos made a final appeal Thursday to world powers to take action to end Syria’s four-year war, saying it had brought more despair than ever thought possible.

In her final report to the Security Council, Amos presented a list of atrocities, from the bombing of a market to attacks on medical facilities, blocked aid deliveries and the use of chlorine to terrorize civilians.

“For more than four years, we have watched Syria descend into deeper depths of despair, surpassing what even the most pessimistic observers thought possible,” said Amos, according to the AFP news agency.

“I know that there are no easy answers or quick fixes,” she told the 15-member council, but stressed, “We cannot leave Syrians abandoned to hopelessness and further despair.”

In the months leading up to her departure, Amos has repeatedly voiced frustration with the Security Council’s failure to unite behind measures to ease the suffering of civilians and chart a course for a political solution.

The British diplomat is stepping down after more than four years in one of the most challenging jobs at the United Nations as demands for humanitarian aid have surged in conflicts worldwide.

On Thursday, she said that more needs to be done for the more than 12.2 million people who are in urgent need of aid.

“For the sake of Syria and its future generations, this council must set aside its political differences and come together to find a solution to what appear to be intractable problems,” she said, according to AFP.

The death toll from the war has surpassed 220,000, but the Security Council has remained deadlocked over how to address the conflict despite three resolutions adopted last year.

Amos noted that 422,000 people are living under siege in Syria, under dire conditions, and that UN agencies and partner relief organizations have been unable to reach those in need in besieged areas.

She then took a swipe at the council, saying that if such a figure had been envisaged at the start of the conflict, council members “would not have believed it possible.”

“Today we take it for granted,” she said.

The UN’s envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura recently held wide-ranging consultations in Geneva with regional and domestic players, including Iran, in a bid to revive stalled talks to end the conflict.

De Mistura is the third UN envoy to tackle Syria’s conflict, which began in March 2011 with peaceful anti-government protests and descended into a war after a harsh regime crackdown.

He has already angered rebel groups by saying  Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad was as “part of the solution” to the conflict in Syria.

In response to those comments, rebels in Aleppo rejected de Mistura’s proposal for a temporary ceasefire in the city.

Syrian Ambassador Bashar Jaafari told the council that the crisis in Syria will end when support for “foreign terrorist fighters” is cut off, in a reference to American, Turkish and Gulf support for opposition armed groups.

AFP contributed to this report.

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