World Headlines
UN: Syrian Civil War Worsening
By Alex Mazariegos
Jul 17, 2013 - 3:05:25 PM

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Image from the briefing of the UN Security Council
MIDDLE EAST—A rare public briefing of the United Nation's Security Council in New York on July 16 has disclosed a grimmer picture of the worsening civil war in Syria, which UN officials fear is sliding deeper into chaos.

 

Citing a climate of intensifying violence, grievous human rights violations, deteriorating humanitarian situations and continuing refugee outflow, UN officials have stated that 5,000 people are killed every month as the conflict persists, with an estimated 100,000 dead since the fighting began in March 2011 between the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad and opposition forces. At least 6.8 million Syrians, half of whom are children, are in need of humanitarian aid. More figures tell of an almost 2 million refugee outpour into neighboring countries and a further 4 million internally displaced.

 

The UN World Food Programme and the UN Food & Agriculture organization have issued a joint report stating that four million Syrians cannot currently meet their food needs.

 

In a statement before the Security Council, Valerie Amos, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, touched on the continued assistance provided by UN agencies but reiterated the difficulties arise when access to Syria is impeded due to the bureaucratic red tape created by Assad. Aid is further limited by the restrictions placed by the government, which allows a relatively small number of organizations to enter the country.

 

Further comments at the briefing addressed the human rights violations attributed to both the government and opposition forces, and UN officials urged the international community to refrain from contributing to the violence, either directly through ground troops or indirectly via the supply of weapons to both sides of the civil war.

 

António Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, singled out the dire status of the refugee crisis, which is “escalating at such a frightening rate that it [resembles] the outflow [of] the Rwandan genocide of nearly 20 years ago.”

 

Around two-thirds of the nearly 1.8 million Syrian refugees have fled to neighboring countries such as Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt; Lebanon and Jordan host over one million refugees between the two, according to the UN.

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Syrian protesters with flag adopted by Syrian opposition forces

 

Mr. Guterres highlighted the deepening burden being placed upon countries hosting thousands of refugees, which may destabilize the region. He called on various financial, United Nation and national and regional development organizations to collaborate with host countries in order to lessen the impact of the refugee crisis.

 

Conditions in the Syrian civil war are further exacerbated by the actions committed by the major powers in the Security Council. Both Russia and China have repeatedly blocked actions against Assad whereas the United States, Britain and France continually press for swift acts against the current Syrian government.

 

Supplementary news from the United Nations have drawn concern that the conflicts in Iraq and Syria are merging, with spillage from each nation's respective battles entering both nations. News of the assassination of Mohammed Darra, a key supporter of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, by Syrian opposition forces in Lebanon and the continued support offered to Assad by Lebanese Shi'ite group Hezbolla have carried the Syrian conflict beyond its borders.

 

Mr. Guterres further warned that “the Syria conflict could ignite the whole region” if a political resolution is not met soon.



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