Situation in Syria ‘tragic and intolerable’

The violence in Syria must stop immediately — and affected civilians given urgent assistance.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and other senior U.N. officials renewed July 30 (Monday) this call for an urgent end to the violence in Syria, where he said the situation has turned “tragic and intolerable.”

In a press briefing, Ban said U.N. observer mission head Lt. Gen. Babacar Gaye’s convoy was attacked during the weekend and that “it is quite fortunate that nobody got injured.” Ban did not say where the convoy was attacked, although Reuters reports some U.N. officials said the attack happened in Talibisa, a town near the city of Homs.

The situation has been particularly alarming in Aleppo, the largest city in Syria. Fighting between government forces and rebels there has escalated in the past days, forcing more than 200,000 civilians to flee their homes and the Syrian Arab Crescent to suspend some activities in the city.

“Many people have sought temporary shelter in schools and other public buildings in safer areas,” U.N. Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos told The Associated Press. “They urgently need food, mattresses and blankets, hygiene supplies and drinking water.”

Among donors poised to assist civilians in Aleppo and elsewhere in Syria is Saudi Arabia, which has raised $72.3 million in a nationwide fundraising campaign. The money is expected to be turned over to aid groups involved in U.N.-managed operations within Syria and in neighboring countries hosting Syrian refugees.

On Sunday (July 29), Jordan opened a refugee camp to host an increasing number of Syrians crossing its border. The new camp, Za’atri, currently can host 10,000 refugees but is expected to accommodate up to 113,000 once completed, according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

France, the incoming head of the U.N. Secretary Council, meanwhile, reportedly plans to ask for a ministerial meeting aimed at ending internal deadlock over Syria in hopes of helping prevent further bloodshed there.

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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.