UN humanitarian chief concludes trip to Syria, Lebanon, Turkey

Türkiye Materials 5 September 2021 04:43 (UTC +04:00)
UN humanitarian chief concludes trip to Syria, Lebanon, Turkey

UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths has concluded his seven-day visit to Syria, Lebanon and Turkey, his first official mission in the region since he assumed his functions, said the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which he heads, Trend reports citing Xinhua.

In Damascus, Griffiths held constructive meetings with senior Syrian officials, diplomats and the humanitarian community. During his meetings with the Syrian foreign minister and deputy foreign minister, Griffiths emphasized the need to expand humanitarian access, protect civilians and help Syrians envision a future for themselves. His visit coincided with the first humanitarian cross-line operation into Northwest Syria since 2017, which he welcomed as an important step to reaching more people in need with critical assistance, said OCHA in a press release.

Griffiths then traveled to Aleppo, where he spoke with Syrian women, men and children about the profound effects of more than 10 years of conflict. As Syria's economic decline continues to drive and compound already staggering levels of impoverishment, Griffiths heard from civilians and humanitarian staff about the urgent need to support communities who are determined to restart their lives, yet desperately need early recovery support to do so.

"I met people in Aleppo whose lives had been totally upended by Syria's long-running crisis," said Griffiths in the press release. "All expressed the desire to feel safe, but in particular they asked for access to basic services: health care, water, electricity and fuel to keep warm in winter. Children want to learn, and young adults want to work. They want support to forge their own dignified path to a better future."

In Beirut, Lebanon, Griffiths met with donors to discuss Syria, and he engaged with the deputy prime minister and the UN Humanitarian Country Team on the fast-growing needs in Lebanon. Griffiths emphasized his particular concern over Lebanon's severe fuel crisis, which threatens to jeopardize the availability of health care and safe drinking water, said OCHA.

During his visit, the humanitarian chief announced a 4-million-U.S. dollar allocation from the Central Emergency Response Fund to support increased fuel supply to ensure that essential services can continue operating.

On the last leg of his visit, Griffiths traveled to Turkey. In Ankara, he held constructive meetings with Turkish officials and welcomed the generosity of the Turkish people and government in welcoming Syrian refugees and facilitating cross-border humanitarian operations into Syria.

Griffiths then traveled to Hatay, where he visited the humanitarian trans-shipment hub to observe UN cross-border operations into Syria. From its hub on the Turkey-Syria border, the UN dispatches 1,000 trucks a month of food, medicine and other life-saving aid to millions of people cut off by hostilities and in desperate need.

"The UN needs to be able to reach people who depend on its aid both from Turkey and from within Syria," said Griffiths. "With greater access and expanded funding, the UN could do more to help the rising number of people in need. Humanitarians and donors must keep Syria high on our collective agenda to prevent an entire generation (from) being lost."