Εμφάνιση αναρτήσεων με ετικέτα humanitarian aid. Εμφάνιση όλων των αναρτήσεων
Εμφάνιση αναρτήσεων με ετικέτα humanitarian aid. Εμφάνιση όλων των αναρτήσεων

Κυριακή, Νοεμβρίου 23, 2014

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and his wife met Sunday with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians, during the last day of his visit to Turkey.

The Bidens visited the Church of St. George, a Greek-Orthodox cathedral in Istanbul, before heading to the historic Suleymaniye Mosque, the largest in the city.

Biden arrived in Istanbul on Friday for talks with Turkish leaders on the crisis in Syria.

Biden said Saturday that he and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed a Syrian transition of power away from the Bashar al-Assad regime during a four-hour meeting earlier in the day.

He said they also talked about denying Islamic State militants a safe haven in Iraq and Syria.

In the past, Erdogan has insisted if the U.S. wants Turkish help, it must focus less on fighting IS extremists and more on toppling the Assad regime. On Saturday, he said Turkey will continue working closely with the United States, and he called Biden's visit "very meaningful."

Biden said the United States will continue to help Turkey cope with the humanitarian crisis created by 1.6 million Syrian refugees flooding into Turkish refugee camps.

Meanwhile the White House announced the U.S. will give $135 million in additional humanitarian assistance to help Turkey and other nations care for refugees fleeing violence in Syria.

Most of that funding is slated for the World Food Program, to be used for household food rations and food vouchers for refugees. Nearly $11 million of the funds will go to support the World Food Program in Turkey.


Παρασκευή, Αυγούστου 22, 2014

UN to hold emergency meeting over Russian aid convoy

 The United Nations Security Council is to hold emergency consultations this evening after Russia sent an aid convoy rolling into eastern Ukraine.
 Lithuania requested the meeting to be held at 3pm local time (7pm Irish time) to discuss the entry of scores of trucks that Ukraine has described as an "invasion”.The Pentagon has said the US is very concerned about the movement of the convoy into the Ukraine and has urged Moscow to withdraw it immediately. 

"Russia must remove its vehicles and its personnel from the territory of Ukraine immediately. Failure to do so will result in additional costs and isolation," Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby told reporters.

"Russia should not send vehicles, persons, or cargo of any kind into Ukraine, whether under the guise of humanitarian convoys or any other pretext, without Kiev's express permission," he said.
NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen sharply criticised the Russian decision to advance a "so-called" aid convoy into Ukraine on Friday as a "blatant breach" of international commitments that "only deepens the crisis".
"This is a blatant breach of Russia's international commitments... and a further violation of Ukraine's sovereignty by Russia," Mr Rasmussen said in a statement.
He poured doubt on Moscow's claim that the convoy, which had been waiting at the border for a week, was actually meant for humanitarian purposes.
Ever since Russia annexed Crimea in March, NATO has taken a leading role in Western accusations that Moscow was actively involved in destabilising eastern Ukraine.
The transatlantic military alliance accuses Moscow of actively providing weapons and fighters to pro-Kremlin separatists as well as massing its own troops near the border.

Putin tells Merkel further aid delays to Ukraine 'unacceptable'
Russian President Vladimir Putin has told German Chancellor Angela Merkel that further delays in delivering humanitarian aid into eastern Ukraine would have been unacceptable, the Kremlin said in a statement.
In a phone call initiated by the German leader, Mr Putin said that following "clear procrastination" by Kiev, Russia decided to begin the controversial mission because "further delays would have been unacceptable" given the humanitarian catastrophe in the conflict zone, the Kremlin said..........................http://www.rte.ie/news/2014/0822/638694-ukraine-convoy/

Πέμπτη, Αυγούστου 21, 2014

UN: Ban fordert Waffenruhe in Ukraine für russischen Hilfskonvoi

UN-Generalsekretär Ban Ki-moon hat zu einer Waffenruhe in der Ukraine aufgerufen, damit russische Hilfslieferungen die notleidende Bevölkerung im Osten des Landes erreichen können.

Der Generalsekretär setze sich für einen Waffenstillstand und eine diplomatische Regelung, damit die Hilfe die bedürftigen Menschen erreichen könne, sagte Bans Sprecher Stéphane Dujarric am Donnerstag in New York. Zuvor bereits hatte Moskau das ukrainische Militär und die Milizen aufgefordert, für die Sicherheit des 1900-Tonnen-Hilfskonvois die Kämpfe einzustellen.
Russland hatte am 12. August einen Hilfskonvoi in die Ost-Ukraine geschickt, wo wegen der andauernden Kämpfe eine humanitäre Katastrophe droht. Eine Kolonne aus 280 Kamaz-Lkws hatte unter anderem 400 Tonnen Grütze, 100 Tonnen Zucker, 62 Tonnen Kindernahrung, 54 Tonnen medizinische Geräte und Medikamente, 12.000 Schlafsäcke und 69 Kraftwerke geladen. Die Aktion erfolgt unter der Ägide und Kontrolle des Internationalen Komitees vom Roten Kreuzes, das die Verteilung der Hilfsgüter auf dem ukrainischen Territorium übernehmen soll.................http://de.ria.ru/politics/20140821/269358759.html

Τετάρτη, Αυγούστου 20, 2014

Red Cross team enters eastern Ukraine to smooth way for Russian convoy

GENEVA - Red Cross officials entered eastern Ukraine on Wednesday to smooth the planned delivery of relief supplies aboard a Russian aid convoy, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said.

The convoy has been stuck at the Russia-Ukraine border for nearly a week due to Ukrainian concerns it could serve as a Trojan horse to infiltrate military supplies to pro-Russian separatists in the area. Moscow says the mission is purely humanitarian in support of civilians trapped by the conflict.
"An advance ICRC team crossed into eastern Ukraine this morning, having received security guarantees from groups controlling the territory for this mission. The team is checking conditions of the road, and the general situation, and establishing contacts in preparation for the passage of the convoy," ICRC spokesman Ewan Watson told Reuters in Geneva.

"Obviously, this is a very positive step, it certainly brings us closer," he said.

But the ICRC had no time frame for when the cross-border aid operation might start as Ukrainian authorities had yet to begin inspecting cargo on the approximately 260 trucks, Watson said.

ICRC officials and vehicles are expected to accompany the Russian trucks and their drivers once they get the green light.

The Russian convoy carrying 2,000 tonnes of water, baby food and other humanitarian aid left Moscow on August 12, arriving at the border a few days later.

Despite renewed diplomatic effort to end the conflict this week, Ukrainian forces fought street battles with the rebels in the eastern town of Ilovaisk overnight into Wednesday as they sought to isolate separatist strongholds near the border, an Interior Ministry official said in Kiev.

Government forces are gaining the upper hand after fighting for four months to quell rebellions in its Russian-speaking east and are steadily tightening the squeeze on rebels in their two big bastions of Donetsk and Luhansk. REUTERS

Τρίτη, Αυγούστου 19, 2014

Briefing Security Council, UN deputy chief urges protection for frontline ‘humanitarian heroes’

UN,19 August 2014 – United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson had one main message – “we must protect humanitarian workers” – as he marked World Humanitarian Day with a special briefing to the Security Council, addressing a subject critical to people caught in conflict.
Recalling that the Day commemorates the 19 August 2003 bombing of the UN premises at the Canal Hotel in Baghdad, Mr. Eliasson said the occasion is “dedicated to the memory of all the staff members and partners who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty for the humanitarian imperative.”

“We have since then seen shocking tragedies and terrorist acts against UN personnel and premises in places like Algeria, Nigeria, Somalia and Afghanistan. These appalling incidents remain fresh in our minds,” he added during his briefing, which also included statements from Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and Masood Director and Co-Founder of The Liaison, an Afghan non-governmental organization (NGO).
Humanitarian workers from the UN, the ICRC, international organizations and NGO’s dedicate their lives to assisting millions of women, children and men affected by conflicts and natural disasters around the world. Working in some of the most dangerous places, they take great risks to help people in desperate need.
“Yet, all too frequently,” Mr. Eliasson continued “their safety is compromised in the most despicable of ways: by threats, by attacks, and by the use of illegal methods of warfare that endanger lives or damage the infrastructure needed for the delivery of assistance.”
Such acts are part of a brutalization seen today in which parties to conflict often ignore international humanitarian law and target civilians for political and military gains. They have used collective punishment, incited ethnic violence, impeded the delivery of humanitarian assistance and attacked humanitarian actors.
He commented: “What this represents is nothing less than a deficit of humanity. Regretfully, this trend is getting worse, rather than better.”
Last year, more humanitarian workers were kidnapped, seriously injured or killed than ever before: 155 were reportedly killed; 171 were wounded and 134 kidnapped – representing a 66 per cent increase from 2012. According to preliminary figures, 2014 has already witnessed the deaths of 79 humanitarian workers in addition to 33 wounded and 50 kidnapped.
“In Somalia alone,” Mr. Eliasson asserted, “over a dozen humanitarian staff were kidnapped or detained during the first quarter of 2014. In recent weeks, several humanitarian workers have been killed in South Sudan and in Gaza.”
The consequences are not only felt by humanitarian workers and their families but also by the millions of people who cannot be reached when assistance is sabotaged by violence. They are felt by the children who do not get vaccinated; the sick and wounded who go untreated; and by those forced from their homes and left without shelter.
In recent years, the majority of incidents have occurred in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and Syria – with the overwhelming majority of victims being national humanitarian workers struggling to save the lives of their own people.
“As we mourn these losses, and recall the plight of the many wounded and kidnapped, we must not accept this as the necessary cost of operating in risky environments,” Mr. Eliasson argued. “Our shared responsibility is to do everything we can to provide humanitarians with the safety and the space they need to do their life-saving work.”
Humanitarian action must not be politicized. A clear distinction between humanitarian actors and political or military actors must be guarded – even when military objectives are to protect civilians.
“If these lines are blurred, perceptions of humanitarian organizations can change quickly and radically and further expose them to violence,” warned the UN deputy chief. “For this reason, political and military actors must respect the need for humanitarian actors to carry out their work in an impartial, neutral and independent manner. Dialogue on how to best maintain this distinction – strike this balance, I would say – is an on-going endeavour.”
“This must include preserving the ability of humanitarian workers to engage with all parties to conflict. Such engagement serves humanitarian purposes. But I want to stress that it does not confer legal status or political legitimacy on non-state groups,” he explained.
Mr. Eliasson outlined four priority actions for the Security Council to support urgently needed humanitarian work in conflict situations. First, it can routinely call on parties to conflict to uphold their legal obligations – and condemn them when they do not.
Second, the Council can ensure that measures to safeguard peace and security, such as the negotiation of peace agreements or deployment of UN peacekeeping operations, do not blur the lines between political, military and humanitarian objectives. “Humanitarian efforts, essential as they are, are no substitute for political action to resolve the causes of conflicts,” Mr. Eliasson underscored.
Third, the Council can impose targeted measures against parties to conflict who violate their obligations to respect and protect humanitarian workers and the civilian population.
And finally, it can use all tools at its disposal to seek accountability for those who perpetrate attacks against humanitarian workers and assets. “This means supporting investigations and prosecutions at the national level, creating special criminal tribunals or mixed arrangements, making use of commissions of enquiry and fact finding missions, and referring relevant situations to the International Criminal Court,” elaborated the Deputy Secretary-General.
Those who take civilian populations hostage – consciously spreading fear and using intimidation to reach their goals – must never succeed.
Mr. Eliasson closed by reiterating that attacks against humanitarian workers and facilities were part of a deeply disturbing trend. “I think of the increase in unacceptable and cowardly attacks against civilians in armed conflict, and the sadly growing lack of respect for international humanitarian law. Let us not accept, but let us stop, the growing deficit of humanity,” he pressed.
On World Humanitarian Day, the Deputy Secretary-General encouraged everyone to honour the victims. “Let us protect the heroes on the frontlines of disaster and war, and let us do everything we can to help them – and to help us all – to alleviate human suffering in a difficult time of turmoil and violence in the world,” he concluded.

Σάββατο, Αυγούστου 16, 2014

Red Cross waits for Ukraine to recognise Russian aid as humanitarian

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has sent Kiev a written resolution confirming the examination of the cargo the Russian humanitarian convoy is carrying, the aid agency’s regional representative said on Saturday.

Pascal Cuttat, head of the ICRC’s regional delegation, said the Red Cross had not yet received Kiev’s reply as to whether it will recognise the convoy as humanitarian aid or not.

He said ICRC officials would accompany each truck in the humanitarian convoy from Russia to Ukraine.

Technical aspects of the border crossing process were discussed with Russian and Ukrainian customs officers, border guards, and ICRC officials on Saturday.

Cuttat said Red Cross officials would also inspect humanitarian aid in Russia before it goes to Ukraine.

However he said that the issue of security for the ICRC officials accompanying the aid had not been solved.

Δευτέρα, Αυγούστου 11, 2014

EU warns Putin against action in Ukraine, including humanitarian. Russia said on Monday it had reached an agreement with Ukraine

BRUSSELS: European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso warned Russian President Vladimir Putin in a phone call on Monday (Aug 11) against any unilateral intervention in Ukraine, including for humanitarian reasons.

"Speaking with President Putin, President Barroso said that the EU would join in international efforts to assist people in need as a result of the conflict," a commission statement said. "President Barroso warned against any unilateral military actions in Ukraine, under any pretext, including humanitarian," it added.

Barroso made separate telephone calls on Monday to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Putin, expressing in both conversations the EU's increasing concern regarding the humanitarian impact of the conflict in eastern Ukraine, especially the civilian casualties.

Russia has pushed for a humanitarian ceasefire in eastern Ukraine as Kiev's forces have encircled large rebel-held cities in the region, but Western countries suspect that Moscow will use the aid mission as cover for sending in troops it has reportedly massed at the border.

Over the weekend, US President Barack Obama, Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron and Germany's Angela Merkel made it clear they would not brook any attempt by Russia to use humanitarian excuses to sneak troops and military equipment into the conflict-torn east of Ukraine. Russia said on Monday it had reached an agreement with Ukraine on providing humanitarian aid to rebel-held cities, but there was no immediate confirmation from Kiev.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he hoped Western countries would not "interfere" in the agreement.

Τρίτη, Αυγούστου 05, 2014

Ukraine: UN urges central registration system amid rising internal displacement

UN, 5 August 2014 – With thousands fleeing the intensifying violence in eastern Ukraine, the United Nations refugee agency today urged the Government to establish a central registration system which would help coordinate relief efforts for the already 117,000 internally displaced people (IDPs).

“In the past seven days more than 6,200 people have been forced from their homes,” Vincent Cochetel, the Director for the European Bureau at the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) told reporters in Geneva today.

“The current lack of a systematic and uniform system hampers the coordination and implementation of relief efforts. This is also important as the Ukrainian authorities make their preparations for winter. Most of the current shelters in use are not suitable for the cold winter months,” he added.

The number of people displaced from the Luhansk and Donetsk eastern regions had risen sharply from 2,600 in early June to 102,600 at the start of this month. People from eastern Ukraine now make up 87 per cent of the country’s total displaced population while those from the Crimea region number some 15,200 people.

UNHCR also reports that a larger number of Ukrainians are arriving and staying in Russia under the visa-free regime. The Russian authorities estimate that around 730,000 Ukrainians, including the 168,000 seen by the Federal Migration Service, have arrived since the beginning of the year under this programme.

People fleeing eastern Ukraine face increasing difficulties, including access to banking services. Basic infrastructure has been heavily affected by the violence, with scarcity of drinking water becoming increasingly common. According to UNHCR, many houses and buildings have been partially or totally destroyed by conflict in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Some people have also expressed fears of persecution for their political views or ethnicity, while others are worried about forced recruitment by either side. Some talked of incidents of abduction, extortion and harassment in their neighbourhoods. And most Ukrainians leaving their country are not applying for refugee status for fear that it would lead to complications.

For its part, UNHCR has started a cash assistance programme to support more than 700 IDPs in the Lviv and Vinnytsia regions. It has also delivered hygiene items and cooking supplies to some 15,000 returnees in Slavyansk, Donetsk region.

Last week, the agency signed an agreement with the Donetsk authorities to open a field office in Mariupol to distribute aid to the most vulnerable displaced people. The first delivery of aid, including food, took place last week in the town of Yalta and another shipment is planned in the coming days.

Cochetel said UNHCR was seeing a mixed picture of displacement with a significant increase of people fleeing violence around Horlivka, Donetsk and Luhansk as well as a substantial number of returns to areas where the Ukrainian government has regained control. Some 4,000 people have returned from the Kharkiv region to Slavyansk and Kramatorsk during the last week while some 20,000 people have reportedly returned to Slavyansk since July 5.


Τετάρτη, Φεβρουαρίου 12, 2014

US trying to force in counterproductive resolution against Syria – Russian FM...

US peremptory claims about Syria being to blame for the aggravation of the humanitarian crisis and its assessment of Russia’s activities is clearly an attempt to create conditions for forcing in a counterproductive resolution, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said on Wednesday.

‘This is another attempt to misinform the international community and create a background for forcing in an unbalanced and counterproductive resolution through the UN Security Council,’ Lukashevich said answering the media questions in connection with US President Obama’s statements on Syrian issues made at a joint press-conference with French President Francois Hollande.

Earlier the US President insisted on the Syrian government’s responsibility for the aggravation of the humanitarian crisis in that country and for the failure of the approved schedule of the elimination of chemical weapons. Obama also said that Russia should see to it that Syria complies with the commitment to place chemical weapons under international control...........http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_02_12/US-trying-to-force-in-counterproductive-resolution-against-Syria-Russian-FM-6685/

  • US tendentiously distorts Russia’s position on Syria – Moscow
Despite having full information about what is happening in Syria on the humanitarian and disarmament tracks, the United States for some unclear reason tendentiously distorts Russia’s position on Syria, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s official spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said in a statement on Wednesday.

He stressed that Russian-US partnership on Syria had played a crucial role in launching a political settlement on the basis of the Geneva Communique, which was signed on June 30, 2012.
Earlier, US President Barack Obama, at a joint press conference after talks with French President Francois Hollande, held the Syrian government responsible for the worsening humanitarian crisis and for the disruption of the agreed schedule for Syria’s chemical weapons disarmament.
"The truce in Homs and Yarmouk has been repeatedly disturbed due to provocations by militants, who opened fire on humanitarian convoys, which was confirmed by UN and OPCW representatives. The desire to pass the buck is behind this yet another attempt to misinform the international public and create the necessary propaganda background for pushing an unbalanced and counterproductive "humanitarian" resolution through the UN Security Council," Lukashevich said.

  • Ответ официального представителя МИД России А.К.Лукашевича на вопрос СМИ в связи с высказываниями по сирийской проблематике Президента США Б.Обамы на совместной пресс-конференции с Президентом Франции Ф.Олландом

Вопрос: На совместной пресс-конференции президентов Франции и США в Вашингтоне 11 февраля Б.Обама заявил об ответственности Правительства Сирии за обострение гуманитарного кризиса в этой стране, а также за срыв согласованного графика уничтожения химоружия. При этом он по сути обвинил Россию, что она не предпринимает необходимых мер для решения этих проблем и потому несет свою часть вины. Как бы Вы могли это прокомментировать?
Ответ: Нам непонятны мотивы столь безапелляционного заявления. Мы разделяем озабоченности американских партнеров относительно обостряющейся гуманитарной ситуации в Сирии. Однако видим и то, что в последнее время удалось добиться серьезных успехов в оказании гуманитарного содействия нуждающимся в экстренной помощи сирийцам, в частности жителям города Хомс и палестинского лагеря Ярмук под Дамаском.
Это стало возможным благодаря достижению договоренностей на местах между сирийскими властями и вооруженной оппозицией о заключении локальных перемирий и проведении гуманитарных операций на устраивающих стороны условиях. Значительную роль в их согласовании сыграли представители ООН и наши дипломаты в Сирии. Этот момент хочу подчеркнуть особо - Посольство России в Дамаске практически на ежедневной основе плотно работает с сирийскими властями и международными посредниками для обеспечения успешного проведения гуманитарных операций. Хорошо бы, чтобы и другие страны, включая США, употребили все свое влияние для решения насущных гуманитарных проблем на земле, в том числе с целью оказания экстренной помощи жителям блокированных боевиками населенных пунктов под Алеппо, а также в Хасеке, Камышлы и других осажденных городах. Исходим из того, что помогать сирийцам нужно не заявлениями с угрозами и обвинениями, а конкретными практическими делами.
Перемирие в Хомсе и Ярмуке несколько раз срывалось вследствие провокаций боевиков, обстреливающих гуманитарные конвои, о чем сигнализировали представители ООН и МККК. Стремление переложить вину с больной головы на здоровую – это очередная попытка дезинформировать международную общественность и создать необходимый пропагандистский фон для продавливания через Совет Безопасности ООН несбалансированной и контрпродуктивной «гуманитарной резолюции». Мы свое отношение относительно проекта этого документа партнерам по СБ уже высказали. Наша позиция хорошо известна – она строится на согласованных базовых принципах урегулирования гуманитарного кризиса в Сирии, зафиксированных в заявлении Председателя СБ от 2 октября 2013 г. Попытки передергивания этих договоренностей, их однобокой интерпретации и политизации гуманитарного досье с целью оказания дополнительного давления на Правительство САР считаем недопустимыми, в том числе с учетом негативного влияния на ход межсирийского переговорного процесса, второй раунд которого начался 10 февраля в Женеве.
По поводу некоторого отставания от формального графика вывоза из Сирии и уничтожения химического оружия мы также неоднократно высказывались. Подчеркну, что при выработке российской позиции учитываем оценки представителей ООН и ОЗХО, непосредственно координирующих этот процесс, в частности Сигрид Кааг, которые считаем вполне объективными. Определенные задержки, вызванные техническими причинами и необходимостью обеспечения безопасного прохождения конвоев с химвеществами, не следует драматизировать и, тем более, использовать в качестве предлога для угроз проведения силовой операции.
Вряд ли наши американские партнеры не владеют реальной информацией о динамике развития событий в Сирии на гуманитарном и разоруженческом треках. В этой связи возникает вопрос – почему заведомо и в тенденциозном ключе искажается позиция Российской Федерации по Сирии? Ведь именно благодаря партнерству России и США удалось запустить процесс политического урегулирования ситуации в этой стране на базе Женевского коммюнике от 30 июня 2012 г.
Со своей стороны настроены на продолжение плотного взаимодействия со всеми международными и региональными партнерами для скорейшего восстановления мира и стабильности в Сирии, реализации чаяний и надежд дружественного сирийского народа на достойную и безопасную жизнь через прекращение насилия и достижение национального примирения и согласия на основе учетов интересов всех проживающих в этой стране национальных групп и конфессий.

Τρίτη, Φεβρουαρίου 11, 2014

Renewed Syrian peace talks make little progress as concern rises for detained evacuees – UN

11 February 2014 – United Nations-sponsored talks between the Syrian Government and opposition that resumed yesterday are making scant progress in ending the “nightmare” of the civil war, the top mediator said today, calling for a quicker pace as officials voiced “deep concern” at the detention by the authorities of men and boys leaving a long besieged city.

“The beginning of this week is as laborious as it was in the first week [of the talks]…I’m urging everybody to speed up,” UN-Arab League Joint Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi told a news briefing in Geneva of the latest diplomatic push to end a war which has killed well over 100,000 people and driven nearly 9 million others from their homes since the conflict erupted between President Bashar al-Assad and various groups seeking his ouster nearly three years ago.

“We are not making much progress,” he said of the talks, which seek to implement the 2012 Geneva Communiqué, the first international conference on the conflict, calling for a transitional government to lead to free and fair elections, as well as to gain humanitarian access to 250,000 people who have been under siege of months or years without any aid and millions of others who have suffered the horrors of the war.
In just one example of the atrocities committed in the war, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today voiced “great shock” at the reported massacre of dozens of civilians on Sunday in the village of Ma’an and called for the perpetrators of this and all other crimes to be brought to justice. “Such horrific incidents should be a reminder to all of the urgency of ending the conflict and launching a political transition towards a new Syria,” he said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Mr. Brahimi said the three-day “humanitarian pause,” the first of its kind, allowing people out and aid into the Old City of Homs, where 2,500 Syrians have been trapped without succor for nearly two years in what has become an iconic symbol of the suffering endured by civilians in the war’s relentless bombardments and sieges, “can be called a success.”
But he noted pointedly that it took six months to reach the accord, which has been extended for a further three days. “Six long months, to get a couple of hundred people - no a little bit more than that - about 800 people out, and a little bit of food in,” he added. “And there are lots of other places that are besieged, where nothing has happened.”
He highlighted the risks involved in the Homs operation in which aid workers and convoys were deliberately targeted by sniper and other fire that killed 11 civilians and almost completely destroyed the car of the UN country representative while he and colleagues were in it.
“We all owe it to the Syrian people, to move a little bit faster than we are doing,” Mr. Brahimi stressed, adding that he will hold a tri-lateral meeting with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov and United States Under-Secretary of State Wendy Sherman – representing the two countries which initiated the Geneva talks – on Friday.
“The people of Syria are thinking: ‘Please, get something going that will stop this nightmare and this injustice that is inflicted on the Syrian people.’”
UN agencies said 1,151 people have so far been evacuated from Homs Old City, reporting starvation conditions, with the UN human rights office voicing deep concern at the detention of 336 men and boys and warning that torture and mistreatment is a war crime.
Under the “humanitarian pause” women, children and the elderly were allowed to leave but not men over 15 and under 54 years of age. The 336 people detained, apparently not wishing to abandon their families, are in this latter category and were detained by Syrian authorities in a school on the outskirts where UN officials are present but do not attend interrogation sessions, with 41 being released today.
“It is essential that they do not come to any harm, and along with our colleagues in other UN organizations, we will continue to press for their proper treatment according to the international humanitarian and human rights law,” UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) spokesperson Rupert Colville told a news briefing in Geneva.
He stressed that prohibited acts under the Geneva Conventions include “violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture, taking of hostages, and outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment,” including against members of armed forces who have laid down their arms or have been placed ‘hors de combat’ by sickness, wounds or detention.
Deploring the “disgraceful” fire targeting UN and Syrian Arab Red Crescent aid workers delivering food and medical aid to Homs on Sunday, he warned: “It is a war crime to deliberately fire on those carrying out humanitarian operations.”
UN World Food Programme (WFP) spokesperson Elisabeth Byrs told the briefing that evacuees from Homs are very weak with obvious signs of malnutrition. One man said he had survived for one week on one spoon of bulgur, while other reported eating leaves, grass, olives, and sometimes wheat flour, with the small remaining amounts of bulgur infested by insects.
She said that in January WFP dispatched enough food for 3.7 million people, leaving half a million people without any food aid due to deteriorating security. The agency, which needs to raise about $40 million every week to meet the food needs of people affected by the conflict, faces a serious shortfall and must raise $273 million to cover needs until the end of March in “a hand-to-mouth operation which requires immediate contributions.”
In an interview with UN Radio from Homs, UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) representative Youssouf Abdel-Jelil said children coming out of the Old City “look terrified, frail and emaciated. In general, there are issues of malnutrition and also a need for vaccination for children.” UNICEF reported that evacuees say the same things about the conditions they have left: extreme cold, hunger, dirty water and constant shelling.
UN World Health Organization (WHO) spokesperson Fadela Chaib an aid convoy brought in agency medicines to treat chronic and infectious diseases to cover nearly 2,000 people for three months, as well as vaccines for polio and others diseases to cover 1,000 children. Many people were suffering from diseases including skin diseases for lack of water and sanitation, she added.
UN refugee agency (UNHCR) is trying to ensure that all civilians who want to can leave Homs and is doing its “very best under the most complicated and dangerous circumstances imaginable” to ensure that as many lives can be saved as possible, spokesperson Melissa Fleming said.
More than 20,000 Syrian refugees have arrived in Turkey since the start of the year in the biggest influx since early 2013, with than 500 people, sometimes as many as 1,000 to 2,000, recently arriving every day across official crossing points, she added.

Σάββατο, Φεβρουαρίου 08, 2014

Aid convoy workers safely left Homs after being fired on - Red Crescent

A joint aid team of United Nations and Syrian Red Crescent workers safely left the Old City of Homs on Saturday after their convoy came under fire as they delivered humanitarian supplies, the Red Crescent said.

In a statement on Twitter, it said one truck driver suffered a minor injury and two damaged trucks had been left inside the Old City.

Four Red Cross employees injured as trucks enter besieged Syria areas ....

Four employees of the Syrian Red Cross have been injured during the humanitarian operation in Homs, Al Mayadeen TV Channel reported on Saturday. One of the convoy's trucks has been attacked by entering the Old Town in the area of Al-Sa'a al-Jadida Square. Homs Governor Talal al-Barazi told Al Mayadeen that one of the militants' groups had violated a ceasefire agreement.

"It has not been subordinated to field commanders with whom an agreement was reached," the governor said.

The incident did not stop the delivery of foodstuffs that continued in residential areas. According to al-Barazi, the Syrian authorities wait for a bus carrying evacuated residents.

Al Mayadeen reports that the Syrian authorities allowed transportation of three tonnes of foodstuffs to Homs. The delivery will be started within hours. At present, the local authorities are coordinating an area where the U.N. convoy will proceed due the fact that the evacuation of peaceful civilians has been delayed.

The situation is calm in the city. The humanitarian operation is led by U.N. coordinator Jacob el-Helo, who said the government structures and the city authorities had made effective contribution to the office.

"I want to thank the Syrian Red Crescent courageous employees, who carried out the operation," el-Helo said.

The U.N. sources do not rule out that the agreement on a "humanitarian pause" will be extended in order to allow most people to leave the area of Al Hamidiyeh.


Τρίτη, Φεβρουαρίου 04, 2014

New UN airlift ships food from Iraq to 30,000 Syrians cut off on land by civil war

4 February 2014 – The United Nations today began a new airlift from Iraq to feed nearly 30,000 displaced people in a conflict-torn region of northeast Syria where road access has been cut off for over six months and no significant relief deliveries have arrived overland since last May.

The airlift comes as the UN World Food Programme (WFP) faces in Syria what is currently its most complex emergency globally, with challenges ranging from bureaucratic delays, insecurity on roads, the closure of major highways, and sieges imposed on civilians trapped in over 40 locations across the country due to the civil war.

“It is tragic to see the most vulnerable Syrians going hungry and paying the heavy price for a political conflict with no end in sight,” WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin said as her agency’s airlift started from Erbil, in Iraq’s Kurdish region, to Qamishli, in Syria’s Al Hassakeh Governorate.

“We call upon all parties to provide us with continuous and unimpeded access across the country. WFP should be able to reach all those who need food assistance all the time.”
At WFP-chartered flight landed at Qamishli today with 40 metric tons of mixed food including rice, pasta, bulgur, wheat flour, canned food, pulses, salt, vegetable oil and sugar, the first of 10 flights that will deliver over 400 metric tons of WFP food and other items – mainly clothes, detergent and soap – for the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the International Organization for Migration.

WFP airlifted food from Erbil to Qamishli in December for more than 62,000 people.
Overall, WFP dispatched in January enough food for 3.6 million people in Syria, short of its target of 4.25 million people as the governorates of Raqqa, Deir Ezzor, Rural Aleppo and Al-Hassakeh were inaccessible. The closure of the Daraa-Damascus highway has also affected the dispatch of food to parts of Daraa, Quneitra, Damascus and Rural Damascus.
Security has deteriorated in Al Hassakeh Governorate in the last few weeks, displacing large numbers of people. Recently, around 7,500 people fled clashes that erupted in rural areas to Qamishli city while others fled towards the Iraqi border.

“The road to political stability and confidence building in Syria starts with an important step: ensuring no one dies because of a lack of food or medicine or from the cold when humanitarian workers are nearby but are not allowed in” Ms. Cousin said of the three-year-old civil war. “Syrians must have their most basic needs met.”
  • As hunger in Syria grows, WFP is appealing for over $2 billion to assist more than 7 million Syrians in urgent need of food aid in 2014. These include 4.25 million people inside Syria and over 2.9 million refugees in neighbouring countries.

Παρασκευή, Ιανουαρίου 17, 2014

Syria gives Russia ceasefire plan for Aleppo

Syria has handed Russia plans for a ceasefire in Syria’s biggest city, Aleppo, and was ready to exchange lists with rebel forces on a possible prisoner swap, its foreign minister Walid Muallem told a joint news conference in Moscow with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov before a planned peace conference on Syria in Switzerland next week
“I count on the success of this plan if all sides carry out their obligations,” Reuters quoted Muallem as saying following talks with Lavrov.
“We would like this to serve as an example to other towns,” Muallem said of the plan for Aleppo.

The Syrian rebels backed by Washington have agreed that if the government commits to such a partial ceasefire, they would abide by it, Washington has said.
Muallem also said that Damascus is in favor to exchange prisoners.
“I informed (Russian Foreign Minister Sergei) Lavrov of our principled position in favor of an agreement to exchange those held in Syrian prisons for those taken by the other side,” he said.

“We are ready to exchange lists and develop the necessary mechanism for accomplishing these goals,” he added.

Washington and Moscow have been trying to negotiate some confidence-building measures and allow humanitarian aid to flow in the nearly three-year-old civil war.

Meanwhile, grisly images emerged from the Palestinian Yarmouk camp in southern Damascus showing bodies of people killed because of hunger or others who suffered acute starvation.
But Muallem denied that Damascus has besieged or attacked the camp.

Syria wants political solution

The Syrian foreign minister said that Damascus “wants a political solution” for the conflict that killed more than 100,000 people and displaced millions.
While Syrian government sent a letter to the United Nations on Thursday confirming attendance of the Geneva talks, it is not clear if the Syrian opposition will join the peace talks.
On Friday, the main opposition group abroad, the Syrian National Coalition, will meet in Istanbul to decide if it will participate in Geneva.
(With Reuters and AFP)

  • Le pouvoir syrien se dit prêt à une série d'avancées humanitaires

Le pouvoir syrien est prêt à prendre une série de mesures humanitaires pour faciliter la situation dans le pays en conflit et à échanger des prisonniers avec les rebelles, ont affirmé vendredi les chefs de la diplomatie russe et syrienne à Moscou. L'opposition syrienne en exil, divisée et sous la pression de ses parrains occidentaux et arabes, se réunit de son côté ce vendredi à Istanbul pour décider de sa participation à la conférence de paix de Genève II.
A cinq jours du coup d'envoi du rendez-vous diplomatique imposé par la Russie et les Etats-Unis, les délégués de la Coalition de l'opposition doivent engager leurs discussions à 14h00 dans le strict huis clos d'un hôtel de la lointaine banlieue stambouliote, a-t-on appris auprès d'un de leurs porte-parole.
Le débat, déjà mis entre parenthèses il y a dix jours, s'annonce long et difficile, tant les membres de l'opposition modérée au président Bachar al-Assad sont divisés sur l'opportunité de s'asseoir à la même table que ses représentants. "Prendre une décision de participer ou non à cette conférence n'est pas facile", a concédé à l'AFP Munzer Aqbiq, le conseiller du président de la Coalition Ahmad Jarba. "Le droit, la justice, le bien et le mal sont parfaitement identifiés dans le dossier syrien, alors faire des compromis sera douloureux", a-t-il anticipé.
En novembre dernier, la Coalition avait posé une série de conditions très strictes à sa participation à la conférence qui doit s'ouvrir mercredi prochain à Montreux (Suisse).
Sur le plan politique, elle a exigé notamment que les discussions se déroulent "sur la base d'un transfert intégral" du pouvoir et que le président Assad "et ceux qui ont du sang sur les mains ne jouent aucun rôle" dans la transition. Et sur le terrain, elle a également demandé un cessez-le-feu pendant les négociations, ainsi que des "couloirs humanitaires" permettant d'évacuer les blessés.
Ses exigences politiques ont d'ores et déjà été rejetées par Damas, qui a répété qu'il n'irait pas à Genève "pour remettre le pouvoir à qui que ce soit ni faire de transactions avec qui que soit", et qu'il revenait à Bachar al-Assad de mener la transition.
Sous l'influence de son fidèle soutien russe, le régime s'est toutefois dit prêt vendredi à prendre une série de mesures "humanitaires" qui répondent aux requêtes de l'opposition. A l'issue d'une rencontre avec son homologue syrien Walid Mouallem à Moscou, le chef de la diplomatie russe Sergueï Lavrov a évoqué la livraison de "cargaisons humanitaires" dans plusieurs régions,notamment autour d'Alep et Damas.

Assurances et réassurances
"J'ai informé le ministre Lavrov que nous étions prêts à échanger des détenus contre des prisonniers capturés par le camp adverse", a pour sa part annoncé Walid Mouallem. Sans évoquer un "cessez-le-feu", le Syrien a également évoqué un plan prévoyant "l'arrêt de toutes les actions militaires" dans la région d'Alep.
Conscients des réticences de plus en plus fortes qui l'animent, les parrains occidentaux et arabes de l'opposition ont multiplié ces derniers jours les assurances et les pressions pour les convaincre de participer à la conférence, condition sine qua non de sa crédibilité.
Jeudi soir encore, le secrétaire d’État américain John Kerry a une nouvelle fois exhorté la Coalition à faire le voyage en Suisse en lui assurant qu'il ne saurait être question d'y accorder le moindre avenir politique à Bachar al-Assad.
Dimanche à Paris, le président de la Coalition Ahmad Jarba avait publiquement évoqué ses "inquiétudes", "doutes" et "craintes" quant à l'issue de la conférence.
En coulisses, les Etats-Unis et la Grande-Bretagne, ont été plus directs, en menaçant directement de lui couper les vivres en cas de refus, selon des médias britanniques.
"La Coalition est prise entre deux feux. D’une part les injonctions à participer des +amis de la Syrie+, de l’autre ses membres qui refusent car ils estiment qu’ils ont trop à perdre", a résumé un diplomate occidental. "On peut s’attendre au final à ce que la Coalition envoie une délégation à Genève, mais à quel prix pour son avenir ?", a-t-il demandé.
La conférence de Genève II doit tenter de trouver une solution politique susceptible de mettre fin à la guerre civile en Syrie, qui a fait plus de 130.000 morts et des millions de réfugiés et déplacés depuis mars 2011. Vendredi, le Haut-commissaire aux réfugiés de l'ONU Antonio Guterres a exhorté les partie au conflit à accoucher rapidement de cette solution. "Il est absolument indispensable de mettre un terme à ce bain de sang", a-t-il dit.

Πέμπτη, Ιανουαρίου 02, 2014

Multiple emergencies pose great test of the global humanitarian system, UN official says

2 January 2014 – An unprecedented number of people are beginning the New Year either internally displaced or as refugees, the United Nations humanitarian chief warned today, urging sustained support in 2014 for millions who have been driven from their homes by violence and bloodshed or uprooted by devastating natural disasters.

“2013 was a real test of the global humanitarian system, and there is no indication that 2014 will be any different,” said UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos, briefing reporters in New York on the past year, which was marked by the international community’s massive efforts to ease suffering in war-torn Syria and typhoon-hit Philippines, and the year ahead, which has opened amid sectarian fighting in both Central African Republic and South Sudan. 

“It is clear that the United Nations and its partners will be needed more than ever,” she said, noting that just a little more than two weeks ago, the Organization had launched its largest ever funding appeal – nearly $13 billion – to reach millions of people with life-saving aid in 2014, with half of that sought for those affected by the deepening crisis in Syria.
Tragically, since then, inter-communal fighting has shattered the world’s youngest nation – South Sudan – and bloody violence has spread throughout the Central African Republic, where a worrying crisis has been unfolding against a backdrop of abject poverty and a collapsing State. The world’s collective response capacity and resources are being stretched to the limit,” she said, stressing that more funds will be needed to address emerging needs. 



Τετάρτη, Δεκεμβρίου 04, 2013

Syria: UN humanitarian chief says no progress made on access to hard-to-reach areas

3 December 2013 – Reporting “modest progress” with the Syrian Government on speeding up visa issuance and increasing the number of relief distribution hubs, a top United Nations official said today that with perhaps 250,000 Syrians cut off from aid in besieged communities across the war-torn country, greater efforts are needed to ensure real gains on the humanitarian front.
“I advised the Security Council that we have seen some modest progress in terms of administrative procedures that had been put in place over time,” said Valerie Amos, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, as she spoke to reporters after briefing the 15-member body on the humanitarian situation in Syria.

This is her second closed-door meeting with the Council since it adopted, on 2 October, a Presidential Statement urging the Syrian Government to immediately allow humanitarian access to relieve the plight of civilians trapped by heavy fighting, including cross-line aid deliveries.
The statement, which called on all parties to the conflict to agree on humanitarian pauses in the fighting, with special attention to key delivery routes, also deplored the escalating violence in a conflict that has killed more than 100, 000 people and driven some 6.5 million others from their homes since opposition protesters first sought to oust the Government of President Bashar al-Assad in March 2011.
On the implementation of the statement, Ms. Amos cited progress, for example, in the Government’s decision to grant some 50 visas on an individual basis.
Damascus has also given the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) permission to open three additional relief hubs, “but only two of these will actually be helpful to us, because the third being proposed – Al Sweida – will not allow us access into Western Dera'a, which is where the hard-to-reach communities are.”
She also noted that both the Government and the opposition had indicated who the interlocutors are for the UN to try to facilitate humanitarian access.
“However, I did remind the Council that on some of the more difficult areas – protection of civilians, de-militarization of schools and hospitals, access to besieged communities and also cross-line access to hard-to-reach areas – we have not seen any progress.
“I need the Council to continue to make it absolutely clear that targeting civilians is against international humanitarian law and that we need to do greater work to ensure that the recommendations in the Presidential Statement are achieved,” she declared.
Responding to questions, Ms. Amos said that an estimated 250,000 civilians are trapped in besieged communities, while perhaps some 2.5 million were in hard-to-reach areas – places that aid workers have been able to reach but not frequently enough to make any real headway against the overall needs.
Asked if a Council resolution – which carry legal obligations for UN Member States ¬– would improve the situation, Ms. Amos said: “My focus is on how what has already been agreed can be put into effect. Should the Council agree on a resolution, then we will operationalize that.”
Indeed, while the UN and its partners have made gains in reaching civilians across the strife-riven country, in the context of the scale of the crisis, “this is far too few to meet the needs of the people. Of course the issue is what is the best means to reach people in need? For me, the unity of the Security Council is the key here.”
Meanwhile, UN agencies continue pressing ahead with relief efforts, now rushing to fortify desperate civilians against the oncoming winter season.
Briefing the press in Geneva today, Marixie Mercado, spokesperson for the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned: “The scale of the humanitarian response needed for the looming winter is unprecedented, as the number quadrupled as compared to the previous year.”
She explained that in December 2012, there were approximately 1.15 million children affected by the crisis inside Syria, with an additional 232,000 Syrian children living as refugees in neighbouring countries.
As the conflict approaches its fourth year, those numbers have skyrocketed to 4.3 million and 1.2 million, respectively. UNICEF has been working since early October to equip children as quickly as possible for the cold. Blankets, plastic sheeting, winter clothing and hygiene kits are being distributed, along with winterized tents and fuel to heat classrooms.
For its part, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has commenced an emergency airlift of urgently needed winter supplies to reinforce its stockpile in northern Iraq with relief items for up to 50,000 vulnerable Syrians. A UNHCR-chartered Boeing 777 landed at Erbil airport on Monday carrying 90 metric tons of relief items to help 4,400 families over the winter months, including plastic tarpaulins, thermal blankets, sleeping mats, jerry cans and kitchen sets.
“While UNHCR has adequate stocks inside Iraq to meet the immediate needs, we want to ensure that sufficient items are on-hand to address any developments,” said UNHCR's Amman-based Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Amin Awad. "The relief items we are airlifting will reinforce the UNHCR-led winterization regional response as temperatures are starting to drop across higher altitude areas in the Syria region.”
Elisabeth Byrs, spokesperson for the World Food Programme (WFP), told reporters that the agency dispatched enough food for over 3.4 million people inside Syria in November, mainly to internally displaced families in 13 governorates, and had reached eight more locations, which had been inaccessible in recent months.
However, she said WFP remains gravely concerned about the fate of many Syrians still trapped in conflict zones throughout the country, including around Damascus and in Al Hassakeh, where some areas have been without food assistance for six consecutive months.
WFP aims to reach 4 million people inside Syria every month, as well as to provide assistance for nearly 1.5 million refugees in neighbouring countries.

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