The United States government has announced an additional contribution of $2 million in humanitarian assistance for Syrians affected by the on-going conflict. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, Kelly T. Clements confirmed this contribution at the March 8, 2012 Syria Humanitarian Forum. The United States was also represented at the Forum by Mark Bartolini, Director of the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance at the U.S. Agency for International Development.
With this additional $2 million, the United States is providing over $12 million in humanitarian assistance. These funds are providing emergency medical care in Syria, and the delivery of clean water, food, blankets, heaters, and hygiene kits to Syrian civilians in need. In announcing the additional humanitarian assistance, Ms. Clements underscored that the real barrier to providing life-saving relief to Syrians is access to those in need.
“Safe access to affected areas, in order to identify the greatest needs and deliver needed assistance, is still not permitted by the Syrian regime. All parties to the conflict have the responsibility to grant and secure this access,” Ms. Clements said. “We urge all parties to permit immediate, safe, and unhindered access by humanitarian agencies to affected areas.”
“The most pressing issue is not humanitarian funding; it is the urgency to end the violence and reach people in need with humanitarian assistance,” Mr. Bartolini said. “Conditions in affected areas of Syria are dire and worsening, and time is not on our side.”
The United States appreciates the efforts of the U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the League of Arab States, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and ECHO, the European Commission’s humanitarian aid service, who jointly chaired the first meeting of the Syria Humanitarian Forum. The United States will continue to support the important work that international and non-governmental organizations carry out in the region in conjunction with the generous nations of Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, and Iraq, who are hosting and assisting those fleeing the brutal violence in Syria.
The UN’s initiative to bring together member states, regional organizations, UN humanitarian agencies, international organizations and NGOs to coordinate humanitarian efforts sends an abiding message on universal humanitarian goals and a harmonized international response. “These are humanitarian actions. It is important to keep the humanitarian and political tracks separate and distinct to give both the maximum chances of success,” said Clements.