UN: Staggering 15.3 million Syrians, nearly 70% of population, need aid

Trucks carrying humanitarian aid seen at the Bab al Hawa border crossing with Turkiye, Syria. (Reuters/File)
Short Url
Updated 31 May 2023
Follow

UN: Staggering 15.3 million Syrians, nearly 70% of population, need aid

  • 2.5 million people are at risk of losing food or cash assistance from July
  • The Syrian people “are more and more reliant on humanitarian assistance as basic services and critical infrastructure are on the brink of collapse"

UNITED NATIONS: For the first time in Syria’s 12-year war, people in every district are experiencing some degree of “humanitarian stress,” and a staggering 15.3 million — nearly 70 percent of the population — need humanitarian aid, the United Nations said Tuesday.
A UN appeal for $5.4 billion to help over 14 million people in Syria is less than 10 percent funded and the UN World Food Program has warned that without additional money, 2.5 million people are at risk of losing food or cash assistance from July.
The dire humanitarian situation, compounded by the February earthquake that devastated the rebel-held northwest, was spelled out to the Security Council by the UN humanitarian office’s operations director Edem Wosornu.
The Syrian people “are more and more reliant on humanitarian assistance as basic services and critical infrastructure are on the brink of collapse,” she said.
Wosornu urged generous pledges and the swift release of funds at a European Union hosted conference in Brussels on June 14-15. She said “Syrians need the support of the international community now more than at any time in the past 12 years.”
She said the need to maintain the delivery of humanitarian aid to the northwest is even more critical after the earthquake. She said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for a 12-month extension of the UN mandate, which expires in July, saying the assistance is “indispensable” and “a matter of life and death for millions of people” in the region.
Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia, whose country is a close ally of Syria, said Moscow shares concerns about the deteriorating humanitarian situation. But he said cross-border aid delivery “has outlived its usefulness” and “we see no reason at all to extend it.”
Nebenzia expressed concern that while cross-border aid was flowing and funded, the appeal to help millions of others in acute need in Syria is only 9 percent funded. It’s “a very odd moral imperative,” if aid “only applies to the terrorists in Idlib and it does not apply to the country as a whole.”
US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the United States will seek a council resolution to extend aid deliveries through the three border crossings currently operating: Bab Al-Hawa, which was the single crossing Russia would allow to remain open in January, as well as Bab Al-Salam and Al Raée, which Syria’s President Bashar Assad agreed to open after the quake, which killed over 6,000 in Syria and has displaced over 330,000. Assad has agreed to keep the two additional crossings open through Aug. 13.
The US envoy accused Assad of “cynically” trying “to seize on the outpouring of international support following the earthquakes to reclaim its place on the world stage,” stressing that “merely sitting at the same table as other regional leaders does nothing to help the people of Syria.”
“If the Assad regime wants to help the Syrian people, it should act immediately and announce that it will keep the Bab Al-Salam and Al Raée crossings open through at least August 2024, or as long as it takes,” Thomas-Greenfield said. “And even if the Assad regime does the right thing, it is frankly no substitute for actions by this council, which has a responsibility to respond to the dire humanitarian needs of the Syrian people.”
Assad was welcomed back to the Arab League this month after a 12-year suspension. Geir Pedersen, the UN special envoy for Syria, told the Security Council that this meeting in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia along with others in Moscow and Amman that included Syrian officials could create new momentum in long-stalled efforts to end the conflict.
He reiterated that new diplomatic activity “could act as a circuit breaker in the search for a political solution in Syria – if there is constructive Syria engagement, and indeed if key regional and international groups and players can work together.”


Israeli strikes target Lebanon’s Baalbek for first time since Gaza war

Updated 26 February 2024
Follow

Israeli strikes target Lebanon’s Baalbek for first time since Gaza war

  • The strikes are among the deepest into Lebanon since the Israel-Hamas war began more than four months ago
  • Israel’s air force carried out three airstrikes on the outskirts of the village of Buday, near Baalbek, targeting a convoy of trucks

BEIRUT: The Israeli military said Monday its air force was striking targets of the militant Hebollah group “deep inside Lebanon,” where residents reported explosions near the northeastern city of Baalbek.
The strikes are among the deepest into Lebanon since the Israel-Hamas war began more than four months ago. They come a day after Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant vowed to step up attacks on Lebanon’s Hezbollah even if a cease-fire is reached with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Lebanese security officials said Israel’s air force carried out three airstrikes on the outskirts of the village of Buday, near Baalbek, targeting a convoy of trucks. Buday is a Hezbollah stronghold. There was no immediate word on casualties.
A Hezbollah official confirmed that three strikes hit near Baalbek. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to reporters.
The Israeli army said further details will follow.
The airstrikes near Baalbek came hours after Hezbollah said its fighters on Monday shot down an Israeli drone over its stronghold in a province in southern Lebanon. Anotehr missile fired by Hezbollah toward the drone was intercepted by Israel, and landed near a synagogue in a town close to Nazareth in northern Israel. There were no injuries or damage.
Hezbollah has been exchanging fire with Israeli troops along the border since the Israel-Hamas broke on Oct. 7.
The strike on Baalbek, because of its location deep inside Lebanon, is the most significant one since the early January airstrike on Beirut that killed top Hamas official Saleh Arouri.
Hezbollah, which has been exchanging fire with Israel throughout the war in Gaza, has said it will halt its nearly daily attacks on Israel if a cease-fire is reached in Gaza.


Palestinian Prime Minister Shtayyeh resigns

Updated 26 February 2024
Follow

Palestinian Prime Minister Shtayyeh resigns

  • Move comes amid growing US pressure on President Mahmoud Abbas to shake up Palestinian Authority
  • Shtayyeh says he is resigning to allow broader consensus among Palestinians following Israel’s war on Gaza

RAMALLAH: Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said on Monday he was resigning to allow for the formation of a broad consensus among Palestinians about political arrangements following Israel’s war against the Islamist group Hamas in Gaza.
The move comes amid growing US pressure on President Mahmoud Abbas to shake up the Palestinian Authority as international efforts have intensified to stop the fighting in Gaza and begin work on a political structure to govern the enclave after the war.
His resignation must still be accepted by Abbas, who may ask him to stay on as caretaker until a permanent replacement is appointed.
In a statement to cabinet, Shtayyeh, an academic economist who took office in 2019, said the next stage would need to take account of the emerging reality in Gaza, which has been laid waste by nearly five months of heavy fighting.
He said the next stage would “require new governmental and political arrangements that take into account the emerging reality in the Gaza Strip, the national unity talks, and the urgent need for an inter-Palestinian consensus.”
In addition, it would require “the extension of the Authority’s authority over the entire land, Palestine.”
The Palestinian Authority, formed 30 years ago under the interim Oslo peace accords, exercises limited governance over parts of the occupied West Bank but lost power in Gaza following a struggle with Hamas in 2007.
Fatah, the faction that controls the PA, and Hamas have made efforts to reach an agreement over a unity government and are due to meet in Moscow on Wednesday. A senior Hamas official said the move had to be followed by a broader agreement on governance for the Palestinians.
“The resignation of Shtayyeh’s government only makes sense if it comes within the context of national consensus on arrangements for the next phase,” senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters.


UAE floating hospital begins operations at Al-Arish to treat Palestinian patients

Updated 26 February 2024
Follow

UAE floating hospital begins operations at Al-Arish to treat Palestinian patients

AL-ARISH: A floating hospital provided by the UAE, anchored in Egypt’s Port city of Al-Arish, commenced operations on Sunday to provide treatment for injured Palestinians.

The initiative is a part of the UAE’s “Gallant Knight 3” humanitarian operation.

The 100-bed hospital has operating rooms, an intensive care unit, radiology section, laboratory and pharmacy, state news agency WAM reported.

A 20-year-old Palestinian man was the first to undergo surgery at the hospital. He was treated for a gunshot wound to the shoulder and injuries caused by shrapnel.

Doctors repositioned his shoulder, and he will require a follow-up operation to repair nerve damage.

The floating hospital was established in cooperation with the Department of Health - Abu Dhabi and AD Ports Group. It is being staffed by 100 medical workers who are skilled in anesthesia, general surgery, orthopedics, and emergency medicine.

Dr. Falah Al-Mahmoud, director of the hospital, said the facility would help alleviate the suffering of Palestinians.

Dr. Falah Al-Mahmoud, director of the hospital, said the facility would help alleviate the suffering of Palestinians. (WAM)

 


Palestinian Prime Minister Shtayyeh resigns

Updated 26 February 2024
Follow

Palestinian Prime Minister Shtayyeh resigns

  • Palestinian PM says ‘new political measures’ needed amid Gaza war
  • The move comes amid growing US pressure on President Mahmoud Abbas to shake up the Palestinian Authority

RAMALLAH: Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said on Monday he was resigning to allow for the formation of a broad consensus among Palestinians about political arrangements following Israel’s war against the Islamist group Hamas in Gaza.
The move comes amid growing US pressure on President Mahmoud Abbas to shake up the Palestinian Authority as international efforts have intensified to stop the fighting in Gaza and begin work on a political structure to govern the enclave after the war.
His resignation must still be accepted by Abbas, who may ask him to stay on as caretaker until a permanent replacement is appointed.
In a statement to cabinet, Shtayyeh, an academic economist who took office in 2019, said the next stage would need to take account of the emerging reality in Gaza, which has been laid waste by nearly five months of heavy fighting.
He said the next stage would “require new governmental and political arrangements that take into account the emerging reality in the Gaza Strip, the national unity talks, and the urgent need for an inter-Palestinian consensus.”
In addition, it would require “the extension of the Authority’s authority over the entire land, Palestine.”
The Palestinian Authority, formed 30 years ago under the interim Oslo peace accords, exercises limited governance over parts of the occupied West Bank but lost power in Gaza following a struggle with Hamas in 2007.
Fatah, the faction that controls the PA, and Hamas have made efforts to reach an agreement over a unity government and are due to meet in Moscow on Wednesday. A senior Hamas official said the move had to be followed by a broader agreement on governance for the Palestinians.
“The resignation of Shtayyeh’s government only makes sense if it comes within the context of national consensus on arrangements for the next phase,” senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters.


Yemen’s Houthis announce first civilian death in US-UK strikes

Updated 26 February 2024
Follow

Yemen’s Houthis announce first civilian death in US-UK strikes

  • One person was killed and eight wounded a day after US and British forces said they fired on 18 targets
SANAA: Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi militia have reported the first civilian death in US and British air strikes after the latest round of joint raids over the weekend.
One person was killed and eight wounded, the Houthis’ official news agency said late on Sunday, a day after US and British forces said they fired on 18 targets across the country.
The US-British strikes were in response to dozens of Houthi drone and missile attacks on Red Sea shipping since November, which the rebels say are in solidarity with Palestinians in the Gaza war.
“The American-British aggression on the district of Maqbana in the governorate of Taiz has left one civilian dead and eight wounded,” the Houthis’ Saba agency said, citing a statement from the rebel-run health ministry.
The Houthis, who control war-torn Yemen’s most populated areas, have previously reported the death of 17 of their fighters in the Western strikes targeting military facilities.
The Houthi attacks have had a significant effect on traffic through the busy Red Sea route, forcing some companies into a two-week detour around southern Africa. Last week, Egypt said Suez Canal revenues were down by up to 50 percent this year.
Washington, Israel’s vital ally, gathered an international coalition in December to protect Red Sea traffic. It has launched several rounds of strikes as well as four joint raids with Britain, which began last month.
The Houthis initially said they were targeting Israel-linked shipping in the Red Sea and adjoining Gulf of Aden, but then declared that US and British interests were also “legitimate” targets.