Aid Agencies Call for Humanitarian Access, Funds for Syria's Displaced Civilians

Aid Agencies Call for Humanitarian Access, Funds for Syria's Displaced Civilians

More than one and a half million people in Syria have been internally displaced by the ongoing conflict there and are in dire need of humanitarian assistance, , the , and five members of the have warned in an to the and the League of Arab States.

According to Save the Children, approximately 7 percent of the Syrian population has been internally displaced, yet as of July 15 a $189 million UN appeal for assistance was only 20 percent funded. Many of the displaced are being hosted by local communities, which are severely strained by the growing number of people in need, with hundreds of thousands living in public buildings such as schools, universities, mosques, and churches. Moreover, food reserves are running out, and many of the internally displaced have limited access to water and sanitation at a time when dehydration is a serious risk for the most vulnerable.

Following the UN Security Council's decision not to renew the mandate of its mission in Syria and Kofi Annan's decision to step down as the joint UN and Arab League special envoy to Syria when his mandate expires at the end of the month, aid agencies are calling on the international community to ensure sufficient funding for humanitarian aid efforts. The letter also calls on the UN and Arab League to remind all parties to the conflict of their legal obligation to prevent displacement and, where this is not possible, to ensure protection of internally displaced people. It also urges the Syrian authorities to allow humanitarian organizations into the country as outlined in Annan's .

According to a joint Rapid Food Security Needs Assessment conducted by the , the , and the Syrian Ministry of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform, nearly three million Syrians will be in need of food, crop, and livestock assistance over the next three to six months.

"There is a danger that those displaced within Syria are being forgotten or overlooked," said Mike Penrose, Save the Children's humanitarian director. "The violence and extreme restrictions on humanitarian access mean hundreds of thousands of people are at risk, especially pregnant women, children, and the elderly. They are cut off from essential services and may not have enough to eat or drink. We urgently need to get into Syria to be able to help them."

"Innocent lives are being lost and thousands are suffering without help," said Elisabeth Rasmusson, secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council. "There is no time to lose."

"." Save the Children Press Release 08/21/2012.