Syrian humanitarian situation worsening, says top U.N. official

Recent figures showed that 4.7 million Syrians lived in 'hard to reach areas,' Valerie Amos said

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Systems implemented by U.N. bodies on delivering aid to war-torn Syria had often had the “opposite effect” in helping with the country’s humanitarian situation, which was “absolutely getting worse,” Valerie Amos, the U.N. under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, said on Friday during an interview with Al Arabiya’s New York Bureau Chief Talal al-Haj.

“One of the things that really concerns me is that we worked to try to get specific procedures in place inside Syria so that we could deliver aid more quickly, more effectively, to people in need, and actually, some of those procedures have had the opposite effect and have delayed the delivery of aid,” Amos said.

Recent figures showed that 4.7 million Syrians lived in “hard to reach areas,” she said, adding that she had continued to attempt to resolve the issue with the Security Council and the Syrian government.

“These are people that we may perhaps have reached once in the last year, some of them we haven’t managed to reach at all, and this is something that I have consistently raised with the Security Council, we’re raising all the time with the government of Syria,” Amos said.

Iraqi turmoil

On Iraq’s ongoing turmoil, Amos said that around 600,000 people have been displaced only recently. The fresh outburst of unrest in Iraq only added to the growing humanitarian crisis in the country, with around a “million and a half” in total now displaced, according to the U.N. chief.

“These are huge numbers of people that we are having to deal with,” she said, calling on Iraq’s government to help alleviate the situation. “Of course, Iraq is a wealthy country, it has oil, it needs itself to make a contribution to helping people who urgently need that help,” she said.

On being asked whether her team in Iraq had negotiated with militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to help ensure the delivery of aid, Amos said: “We try to make sure that we have people on the ground in local areas, that are able to make the contacts that they need to make to enable that access…we have worked in many countries across the world – Somalia with al-Shabaab, one example, Mali and elsewhere where we are having to engage in these discussions on a daily basis at a local level.”

This week, the U.N. tripled its appeal for humanitarian funding for Iraq to more than $312 million.

More than 1,000 are estimated to have been killed this month in the violence that has gripped Iraq.