Four hours of peace in Syria, then what?

John Ging, director of operations for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Photo by: Jean-Marc Ferré / U.N.

Syrian authorities and rebels agreed on a four-hour ceasefire so that humanitarian workers could enter a battle-torn district on Monday, sparking new hope for expanded access.

John Ging, U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs operations director, led the Jan. 21 operation to a town in the province of Homs. Iintricate coordination was needed to arrive at the ceasefire, which enabled his team to cross the conflict line and deliver aid to the rebel-held area, he said afterward.

“We very much, very much, hope that if it can be done for four hours of our mission, why can’t it be extended for the Syrian people by the leaderships on both sides,” Ging said.

Meanwhile, the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees announced the expansion of its humanitarian efforts to keep up with growing number of Syrians fleeing their country. The expansions come despite a steep funding gap – only 18 percent of UNHCR’s budget request has been met so far.

The crisis in Syria has left more than 2.5 million people in dire need of humanitarian assistance, and it is among the top priorities U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon mentioned in a recent interview.

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    Adrienne Valdez

    Adrienne Valdez is a staff writer for Devex, covering breaking international development news for the Development Newswire. Before joining Devex, Adrienne worked as a news correspondent for a public-sector modernization publication.