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$40 million needed each week to help Syrians

Staff Reporter / 27 March 2014

It is women who most often bear the crippling consequences, be they physical, psychological, social or economic.

The delivery of humanitarian assistance, particularly to women, in crisis situations requires more innovative and cost effective tools and strategies, a UN official has said. Ertharin Cousin, executive director of the UN World Food Programme (WFP), focused on the impacts war and disasters have on women’s safety, food security, health and education.

A visitor at the Dubai International Humanitarian Aid and Development Conference and Exhibition at Dubai World Trade Centre on Tuesday. — KT photo by Rahul Gajjar

She explained that women and children make for more than three-quarters of those affected by disasters and crises. It is women who most often bear the crippling consequences, be they physical, psychological, social or economic.

Cousin was speaking on the second day of The Dubai International Humanitarian Aid and Development Conference and Exhibition (Dihad). “We won’t forget you … That was my promise to women and children whom I met during my trip to the Central African Republic. I am keeping my word by being their voice in Dihad. I am also the voice of many others in forgotten crises in different parts of the world.

“Dihad offers the ideal forum for discussion and resolution that will help us achieve our shared goal of delivering better for the women and children depending on our collective support,” she said.

Key international humanitarian personalities highlighted different aspects of the conference’s theme: ‘Women and aid’; ‘women on whom disasters and crises inflict a disproportionate amount of suffering’; and ‘women, essential providers of relief and assistance’.

Syrian crises

Commenting on the Syrian humanitarian crises, Muhannad Hadi, WFP regional emergency coordinator for Syria and neighbouring countries, said: “The WFP moves around 40,000 metric tonnes of food each month to feed close to four million people across Syria. This is one of the WFP’s largest and most complex operations worldwide. We are grateful for the generous contributions that have enabled us to save lives. The WFP requires $40 million each week to assist affected people in Syria and refugees in neighbouring countries.”

Kristalina Georgirva, European commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian and Crisis Response (Echo), said: “The greatest challenges we face can be summed up in a word: Access. Hundreds of thousands of innocents are trapped behind and between fighting lines where our aid cannot reach. We need the fighters to respect civilians and humanitarian workers. That is why I was relieved when the UN Security Council passed a humanitarian resolution. Now we need to ensure that it is implemented and that respect for International Humanitarian Law is restored. The international community’s role in advocating for this is crucial.”

 Arab Idol remembers his past

Mohammed Assaf, the 2013 Arab Idol winner, attended the conference. “Before I became a singer and the Arab Idol winner, and a Goodwill Ambassador, I was a Palestinian refugee, and a student of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) school in Gaza.

“Many of you here are familiar with the UNRWA and many of you also are supporting it. You may know that it is the largest UN agencies working closely with the Palestinians on the ground in the Middle East.”

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