A humanitarian hub for Syria

Thick smoke rises from shelled buildings and homes in Homs, Syria. U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a joint statement calling for the end of violence in Syria. Photo by: David Manyua / UN

If everything goes according to plan, Jordan will officially become the logistics center for Syrian relief efforts by the end of the year.

The proposal involves converting the old Mafraq airport into an air corridor that will receive medical, food and other humanitarian aid to Syria from around the globe. It, however, still needs the approval of the United States and Jordan, according to local media reports, quoting diplomatic sources. 

Mafraq is seen as an ideal location due to its proximity to the Syrian border. It has become somewhat of a hub for local and foreign relief agencies because it hosts a large number of Syrian refugees: It is estimated that around 125,000 Syrians have fled the fighting in their country to seek refuge in Jordan since March 2011.

The plan was hinted by Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh during a news conference with visiting U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres a few weeks ago.

“Jordan plans to launch a humanitarian hub in order to address the humanitarian repercussions for the Syrians, and in order to build the necessary preparedness to respond to these humanitarian needs,” Judeh said June 7.

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, world leaders renewed calls for an end to hostilities in Syria.

On the margins of the G-20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, U.S. President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, issued a joint statement agreeing that violence should cease in Syria. Obama, however, failed to get Putin’s backing for a regime change there. Russia and Syria were known to be Cold War allies.

In Brussels, Catherine Ashton, the high representative of the European Union for foreign affairs and security policy and vice president of the European Commission, urged warring parties in Syria to put down their arms and give immediate and unimpeded access to humanitarian aid as well as allow for the evacuation of women, children, elderly and injured from conflict-afflicted areas.

“There is now an urgent need for united action by the international community,” a spokesperson for Ashton said in a statement. “The High Representative calls on all members of the UN Security Council to unite and increase the international pressure to reinforce the plan of Kofi Annan and to allow for a political process to begin.”

On June 16, the U.N. Supervision Mission in Syria announced it had suspended its operations due to increasing violence in the country. The group is tasked to monitor the implementation of the six-point peace plan proposed by Kofi Annan, the joint special envoy of the United Nations and the Arab League for the Syrian crisis, which includes a daily two-hour humanitarian cease-fire.

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About the author

  • Eliza Villarino

    Eliza Villarino currently manages one of today’s leading publications on humanitarian aid, global health and international development, the weekly GDB. At Devex, she has helped grow a global newsroom, with talented journalists from major development hubs such as Washington, D.C, London and Brussels. She regularly writes about innovations in global development.

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