Humanitarian aid to Syria still not enough
By Per Yann Le Floc’h | Thursday 26 July 2012
It has become urgent that EU humanitarian aid to Syria should be increased in the light of the escalation of the conflict in the country, a report from the European Commission’s DG for Humanitarian Aid has said. On July 23, the Commission doubled aid to Syria to €40 million, but the EU recognises that many obstacles still stand in the way of providing the necessary support both to Syrians within the country and refugees who have fled to neighbouring states.
The United Nations estimates that the total number of Syrian refugees currently stands at 500,000, with 105,000 of them in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq - and these figures only include registered refuges. Every day, 1,000 people flee from Syria, while refugees from other countries – including 87,000 Iraqi and 500,000 Palestinian refugees - are currently in Syria. The World Food Programme is providing aid for 85,000 people and hopes to increase this number to 1.5 million.
The Syrian Humanitarian Forum, which took place on 16 July, called for better protection of citizens and humanitarian staff (five Red Cross volunteers have been killed in Syria), and for permission to provide medical care for the wounded in prison and psychological support to victims.
However, significant obstacles remain. The EU has only been able to send one expert to Damascus due to the difficulty of obtaining Syrian visas since the EU adopted sanctions against the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Without the support of the Syrian authorities, it is very difficult to provide sufficient aid to victims within the country. The EU and the international community are therefore working closely with the Arab Red Cross, the main humanitarian organisation in Syria.