Kofi Annan's departure not the only bad news for Syria

Kofi Annan (right), joint special envoy of the United Nations and the League of Arab States to Syria, with his spokesperson Ahmad Fawzi. Annan has announced that he will step down when his mandate expires Aug 1. Photo by: Yann Castanier / UN

Thursday (Aug. 2) was a particularly bad day for Syria: The U.N.-backed peace process suffered a huge setback just as new humanitarian needs became public.

On the humanitarian front, U.N. agencies said up to 3 million people in the country will likely need food, livestock and agriculture assistance over the next 12 months. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization and World Food Program attributed the need to the effect of the conflict on Syria’s agriculture sector. A majority of farmers in the country were unable to harvest their crops, the agencies said, according to Reuters.

There is some good news: The United States is giving $12 million worth of new humanitarian aid. This brings to $76 million the U.S. contribution to relief efforts for people affected by the 17-month-long crisis in the Middle Eastern country. In addition, a convoy of 43 trucks carrying food, medicine and clothing left Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, for Syrian refugee camps in Jordan.

But the future of U.N. and Arab League-backed peace process is even more uncertain than ever after its chief international envoy, Kofi Annan, announced that he will step down when his mandate expires on Aug. 31. The former U.N. secretary-general cited “finger-pointing and name-calling” within the U.N. Security Council among the reasons behind his decision.

Annan, nonetheless, said he believes that “Syria can still be saved from the worst calamity.” This would require leadership and courage, especially from U.N. Security Council permanent members such as Russia and the United States, he said.

“Is ours an international community that will act in defense of the most vulnerable of our world, and make the necessary sacrifices to help?” Annan writes. “The coming weeks in Syria will tell.”

The United Nations said it is now consulting with the Arab League to find a replacement for Annan. The European Union has called for the “early appointment” of the Nobel Peace Prize winner’s successor.

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributes to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.