An SOS from UN agencies

The United Nations aid agencies have stated the obvious.

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Published: Wed 17 Apr 2013, 8:01 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 10:36 AM

Unable to find a way out of the mess in Syria, in terms of insufficient funds and the lack of political will from world leaders, the world body’s subsidiary organisations have said in a joint statement that catastrophe looms large if nothing is done to stall the decaying state of affairs. The heads of five major UN agencies — the WHO, Unicef, Ocha, WFP and UNHCR — in a rare joint appeal to the international community have called for making efforts to, what they said, ending ‘cruelty and carnage’ in the war-torn country.

The fact that they went out of their jurisdictional ambits to invoke an issue in a pure political language, in an endeavour to address world conscience, speaks of the urgency at hand. In no simple words, they said that they are asking for more than monetary assistance, and were categorical in saying that until and unless world leaders used their personal influence and intervened in a passionate manner, the crisis will keep on multiplying manifold. The UN says at least 70,000 people have been killed and more than a million displaced since the conflict began two years ago. But that does not take into account a million or two more people who are internally displaced, and living a miserable life under the shadows and disease and destruction. The agencies rightly criticised what they described as “an insufficient sense of urgency among the governments and parties that could put a stop to the carnage in Syria.” This is so because the aid groups’ earlier warnings and appeals fell on deaf ears and hundreds and thousands more were forced in recent weeks to flee to Jordan and safe havens in Turkey and Lebanon.

The new SOS from the world body underlines the irresistible phenomenon that providing food, shelter and other basic amenities is becoming a tough task, and input from the donors hasn’t been enough. The horrifying scenario is that of aid agencies walking away because of insecurity and funding difficulties, and a nation in civil-strife left on its own to deal with upheavals. This shouldn’t be allowed to happen. It’s high time the UN and the world governments responded in cash and kind to the urgency, and a civilisation saved from annihilation.

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