UN awaits Syrian government approval of humanitarian action plan

Syrians at the entrance of a refugee camp in Antakya near the country's border with Turkey. The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs awaits the approval of the Syrian government for a plan designed to support the needs of up to 1 million people in the country. Photo by: Syria Freedom / CC BY

Will the United Nations’ $180 million humanitarian response plan for Syria see the light of day? The answer lies with the country’s embattled government.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has presented the plan to governments, nongovernmental organizations and aid agencies that attended the recent Syria Humanitarian forum in the United Arab Emirates. The Syrian government, however, needs to approve the plan before it can be implemented.

The plan is designed to support the needs of up to 1 million people over a six-month period. It focuses on providing health care and food, repairing basic infrastructure and providing livelihood support. The United Nations said it is mobilizing resources to support the plan while it waits for Syria’s decision. The government’s approval is crucial to the logistics of the plan, especially in securing visas for aid workers and setting up U.N. field offices.

The Syrian government, for its part, has increasingly been recognizing the humanitarian situation in the country. But it has rejected the U.N. estimate that 1 million people around the country are in need of aid, IRIN News reports. The government has also made demands on who should lead aid efforts in the country.

“They have said they want the Syrian Arab Red Crescent to take the lead,” said Valerie Amos, the U.N. undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs. “We are happy for the Syrian Arab Red Crescent to take the lead, but we need additional capacity on the ground.”

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed 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.