Up to 13 million civilians inside Syria are in dire need for relief aid, said Panos Moumtzis, the UN Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for Syria. He also said that available funding covers only 35 percent of the total number of those in need.
Speaking at a press conference in Istanbul on Wednesday, Moumtzis said that his visit to the Turkish city is aimed at “drawing up plans, coordinating humanitarian work in Syria, and preparing for the humanitarian relief operations for 2018.” He called for providing protection for humanitarian workers, especially those working in schools, civil centers, and water facilities. He also called for protecting civilians.
Moumtzis said that all parties to the conflict must allow access to all areas in Syria, especially to civilians in need for humanitarian assistance, including 2.9 million women and children in hard-to-reach areas and over 400,000 civilians in besieged areas.
The UN official expressed concern for around 8,000 people who are still trapped in Raqqa and living in difficult humanitarian conditions. He also expressed concern for the ongoing displacement of civilians in Deir Ezzor province.
When asked about UN preparations for the approach of winter, Moumtzis described such preparations as crucial. The UN relief agency is already carrying out preparations for the delivery of aid in mountain areas and hard-to-reach areas. He noted that the biggest obstacle the agency is facing is the insufficient funding.
Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) voiced alarm at a surge in violence resulting in civilian casualties in the IDPs camps in recent weeks.
In a report published on October 6, ICRC said that “these are the worst levels of violence since the battle for Aleppo in 2016,” adding that September was the deadliest month for Syrian civilians in 2017, especially in the provinces of Raqqa, Idlib, and Deir Ezzor. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Agencies)