Syria solution 'more urgent than ever', says UN aid chief
Syria is 'most acute, unrelenting and shameful blot on world’s humanitarian conscience', says Stephen O'Brien

A political solution is more urgent than ever to end the "gargantuan levels of suffering" in Syria, the UN's top relief official said Tuesday.

"We must show the people of Syria that the world has not forgotten them or the plight of their country", Stephen O'Brien, the newly appointed humanitarian chief, said in his first briefing to the Security Council.

"I urge the Security Council to consider its options through their eyes, the eyes of the beleaguered, now long-suffering Syrian people", he said, adding that there is no humanitarian solution to the conflict.

The civil war in Syria, now in its fifth year, has left more than 220,000 people dead and nearly half of the country's population displaced, according to the UN.

O'Brien said a "tragic milestone" was recorded when the number of registered Syrian refugees reached 4 million in early July – the largest refugee population from a single conflict worldwide in more than a quarter of a century.

"I commend the neighboring countries who shoulder this extraordinary burden with remarkable generosity and hospitality, despite the destabilization it brings", he said, urging the international community to do more to support these countries and to receive a higher share of those seeking safety.

"Syria today ... is the most acute, unrelenting and shameful blot on the world’s humanitarian conscience," he added.

Following the briefing, O'Brien told reporters that a potential safe zone in northern Syria, which is being discussed by Turkey and the U.S., should not be declared unless there is a guarantee for the safety of civilians who are likely to flee to the area.

"What you don’t want to do is call something a safe zone, people flee to it, but it hasn’t got sufficient protection", he said.

The Turkey-proposed safe haven appears to have gained more traction over the past week since Turkey started to launch airstrikes on Daesh militants in Syria.

Some of the refugees currently in Turkey and in neighboring countries – along with those displaced within Syria and Iraq – could return

Turkey says one of the aims of the formation of a safe zone in Syria is to establish an area in which Syrian refugees currently in Turkey and in neighboring countries – along with those displaced within Syria and Iraq – could return.

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Last Modified: 2015-07-29 07:25:41
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