UN hails Kuwait’s efforts to assist Syrian refugees
BRUSSELS: Valerie Amos, UN undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, has praised His Highness the Amir of Kuwait for hosting the international donors’ conference on Syria on Jan 30. “We were hosted by HH the Amir of Kuwait which was extremely important.
Kuwait took the lead in terms of making pledges at that conference, pledging $300 million for humanitarian effort,” she told the Kuwait News Agency during a visit to Brussels. “I think that was very well received. The conference was extremely well organised and I think the fact of Kuwait taking the lead in the pledging led other countries to also respond generously,” said the UN’s top most humanitarian aid official.
“The Secretary General, myself the whole of the UN system are enormously grateful to the Amir and to the people of Kuwait for their efforts on our behalf,” noted Amos who has also served as leader of the House of Lords in the UK. She noted that the response from the other Gulf countries like Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain was “extremely positive and recognized as such”.
Amos noted that a number of charities in the Gulf countries have been active in relief and aid work for Syrian refugees particularly in neigbhouring countries like Turkey and Jordan. “The conference gave a recognition to that work which I think is important, ” she said.
Earlier, speaking at a press conference Amos said she is in Brussels as part of a tour of a number of EU countries which are strong supporters of humanitarian work. The focus of her visit is the humanitarian issues in Syria and Mali and the wider Sahel region, she said.
She will meet Kristalina Georgieva, EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Andris Piebalgs, EU Commissioner for Development, and will brief the EU Political and Security Committee. She will also meet Belgian and NATO officials during her visit to the Belgian capital.
“In Syria the situation is deteriorating as the fighting continues to devastate the lives of millions of Syrians,” said the UN official. She estimated that four million Syrians require immediate humanitarian assistance including three million who are internally displaced and over 700,000 who have taken refuge in neighbouring countries.
“While political solution continues to evade us the humanitarian community continues to try do more to help Syrians caught up in the conflict,” she said. Amos said she is talking to both the Syrian regime and opposition group to improve access to humanitarian aid.
“In the recent pledging conference for Syria which was oganised in Kuwait on Jan 30, the international community came together to show support to the Syrian people and more than $1.5 billion was pledged,” she said. “We are now working to turn this money into respond efforts on the ground. We are grateful to all of those countries which pledged and there were many European Union countries which did so either in the individual capacity or as part of the EU efforts,” she said.
The UN needs $1 billion to assist the Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries and $519 million for response effort inside Syria itself for the first six months of this year. Amos said the situation in the Sahel is better than we feared last year. “Early and rapid action has helped to save lives but the crisis is now aggravated with the conflict in Mali where over 1.2 million people are caught in the middle of armed operations,” she said.
She said that the UN is working with the EU to improve the response on the ground across the Sahel to tackle food and security issues. As a former secretary of state for international development in the British government Amos has worked globally to tackle poverty in Africa.