U.N., EU Urge from Beirut for More Syria Aid as Conflict Enters 'New Phase'

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EU and U.N. aid chiefs called in Beirut on Saturday for urgent funds to help internally displaced and refugee Syrians, in a new phase of a "brutal conflict" that has killed tens of thousands and affected hundreds of thousands more.

U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres told reporters during a visit to Beirut that "this is not a conflict like many others. This indeed became a brutal conflict in the context of dramatic humanitarian tragedy."

He called on the world to step up financial support for countries hosting Syrian refugees, saying they require "massive support."

The UNHCR says the number of refugees in neighboring Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and Iraq has now reached more than 500,000, and is projected to jump to 1.1 million by June.

EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid Kristalina Georgieva said her agency is trying to provide assistance to Syrians inside their country "so they don't need to flee to neighboring countries.

But that "is becoming increasingly difficult, and in some parts of the country impossible," she added.

The two officials spent Saturday morning in the Bekaa Valley, visiting refugees, a third of whom are hosted by Lebanese families, according to the U.N.

"While all the refugees we talked to prefer to stay in their home country, they are reporting atrocities and fighting of a magnitude that pushes them out," said Georgieva, adding that "unfortunately the conflict has entered a new phase."

Syria has authorized the U.N. to open eight new field offices to aid the displaced but, "for the first time since the beginning of this conflict, the number of international humanitarian staff inside Syria is decreasing."

"We rely more and more on local staff and on the social fabric of the Syrian society and community organizations that deliver assistance," Georgieva said.

"But the problem is for this assistance to cross battlefield lines, and that is becoming very, very difficult," she said.

The impact of fighting on the economy has compounded the problems facing those who remain in their country.

"Aleppo used to produce medicines and also chemicals for treatment of drinking water. That production capacity is gone," she said, referring to Syria's former commercial hub and second city.

"Many people are killed or wounded, but on top of it hospitals are destroyed and medical services to the population are gone in many places."

"We just talked to a family who said the price of bread jumped 12 times in the place they came from. In these conditions, unfortunately there is a new strong push that leads to an increase in refugees and that is where our alert has to be high."

In Damascus, meanwhile, Foreign Minister Walid Muallem called on the United Nations to push for an end to Western sanctions, which he said were causing suffering among the Syria people.

Comments 6
Thumb benzona 16 December 2012, 04:33

Guys, you know what this « New Phase » is? it's the FINAL PHASE. a lou lou lou lou lou. Let's celebrate.

Thumb JabalElFersan 16 December 2012, 10:32

Is this going to be some cash grab for Lebanese polotitions to line their pockets with $$$??

Missing mohammad_ca 16 December 2012, 20:08

is that what you said when the world was paying money to the refugees from the South in 2006?

Missing beirutbastard00 16 December 2012, 13:37

Ughhhh these ppl r never gonna leave!!!... Syria is Syria, bashar or no bashar, they think Lebanon belongs to them. I hope, after the fall of Assad, Syria stays messed up for 20yrs! Maybe we can have a little prosperity.

Default-user-icon Ben Dou (Guest) 16 December 2012, 14:29

It is clear that the UN and the west whom are pleading for more funds are in line with the terrorists that the conflict should go on till Bashar falls. UN and west pledge for funds but we never hear them pushing for the conflicting parties to sit down together to end the conflict and misery for the Syrian people. Ban Ki Moon, why don't you push to end the conflict, why don't you ask the parties involved that this is unacceptable to continue for another day? They ask for refugee camps in Lebanon and planing figures till June for up to 1 million refugees, still they cannot plan to stop the conflict. And as usual Naharnet will not publish different minded comments due to Bashar Assad look a like media thinking:)

Missing beirutbastard00 16 December 2012, 19:01

@al-kafi... Their weapons and political cover came from Syria. Without them irans arm can't stretch this far.