Davos: U.N. reputation at risk over Syria, warn NGOs

Urgent action needed to alleviate suffering, leaders of aid organizations say in joint letter

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The leaders of the world's seven largest humanitarian and human-rights organizations involved in the Syria aid effort this morning issued a joint call from Davos, Switzerland urging officials at Geneva II to take steps to alleviate the human suffering in the war-torn country.

The organizations specifically cited the United Nations and member states of the Security Council as those whose reputations are “at risk” unless they can “resolve…the worst humanitarian crisis of our time.”

“The Syrian emergency is among the greatest tests in our generation of our leadership and our humanity. We are failing that test and, more importantly, the people of Syria,” said Kevin Jenkins, president of the humanitarian aid organization World Vision.

The letter was also signed by Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International; Helene Gayle, CEO of CARE USA; Ken Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch; Neil Keny-Guyer, CEO of Mercy Corps; Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of Oxfam International; and Jasmine Whitberad, CEO of Save the Children International.

The collective statement was issued at the annual World Economic Forum meeting in Davos. It said that while the meeting between the Syrian government and representatives from the opposition is taking place, “millions of Syrians are enduring a second winter displaced from their homes” and that “half of the country is now dependent on humanitarian aid and millions of people still cannot access lifesaving assistance.”

“In some areas disease and starvation are rife. The current situation is unacceptable and defies the basic norms of a civilized world,” the statement added.

The letter urged officials at the talks that regardless of the political outcome, serious efforts must be made to “alleviate the humanitarian suffering of ordinary Syrians,” emphasizing that innocent citizens were not “a political bargaining chip.”

The message concluded with the leaders firmly underscoring that people “must be able to access life- saving aid,” a sentiment that government and opposition alike must agree on as “an absolutely priority.”

More than 130,000 people have died in Syria’s three-year conflict, and more than a quarter of the population of 23 million now live as refugees, either within Syria or in neighboring countries.

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