A U.N. Appeal to Save Syria
By VALERIE AMOS, ERTHARIN COUSIN, ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, ANTHONY LAKE and MARGARET CHAN
Published in the New York Times: April 15, 2013
After more than two years of conflict and more than 70,000 deaths, including thousands of children. … After more than five million people have been forced to leave their homes, including over a million refugees living in severely stressed neighboring countries … After so many families torn apart and communities razed, schools and hospitals wrecked and water systems ruined … After all this, there still seems to be an insufficient sense of urgency among the governments and parties that could put a stop to the cruelty and carnage in Syria.
We, leaders of U.N. agencies charged with dealing with the human costs of this tragedy, appeal to political leaders involved to meet their responsibility to the people of Syria and to the future of the region.
We ask that they use their collective influence to insist on a political solution to this horrendous crisis before hundreds of thousands more people lose their homes and lives and futures — in a region already at the tipping point.
Our agencies and humanitarian partners have been doing all we can. With the support of many governments and people, we have helped shelter more than a million refugees. We have helped provide access to food and other basic necessities for millions displaced by the conflict, to water and sanitation to over 5.5 million affected people in Syria and in neighboring countries, and to basic health services for millions of Syrians, including vaccinations to over 1.5 million children against measles and polio.
But it has not nearly been enough. The needs are growing while our capacity to do more is diminishing, due to security and other practical limitations within Syria as well as funding constraints. We are precariously close, perhaps within weeks, to suspending some humanitarian support.
Our appeal today is not for more resources, needed as they are. We are appealing for something more important than funds. To all involved in this brutal conflict and to all governments that can influence them:
In the name of all those who have so suffered, and the many more whose futures hang in the balance: Enough! Summon and use your influence, now, to save the Syrian people and save the region from disaster.
Valerie Amos is U.N. under secretary general for Humanitarian Affairs. Ertharin Cousin is executive director of the U.N. World Food Program. António Guterres is U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. Anthony Lake is executive director of the U.N. Children’s Fund. Margaret Chan is director general of the World Health Organization.
Learn more: http://www.unicef.org/