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UN: No funds yet for Syria refugees

Jordan says it hosts more than 368,000 of the 787,000 Syrians displaced in the region.

Source : Agencies / 18 Feb 2013

The UN refugee agency says it has not yet received the funds recently pledged for Syrian refugees and is struggling to help rising numbers fleeing the country’s nearly 2-year-old civil war.

Andrew Harper, the agency’s representative to Jordan, said yesterday that the $ 1.5 billion pledged last month at an international donor conference in Kuwait “has not come through.”

He says the lack of funds is making it very difficult to provide shelter, food, clothing and blankets to thousands of Syrians who daily cross into Jordan.

Jordan says it hosts more than 368,000 of the 787,000 Syrians displaced in the region.

Speaking by telephone from Geneva, Harper says UN agencies in Jordan are spending $1 million a day to help the refugees.

The UN rights chief, meanwhile, said yesterday that the international community was hesitating to take action on Syria because countries were weighing up whether any military intervention would be worth it.

Urging that some sort of international action be taken against Syrian President Bashar Assad, Navi Pillay repeated her call for him to be investigated for “crimes against humanity and war crimes.”

Asked by Britain’s Channel 4 television whether it would be difficult for the UN to intervene in a place like Syria, she said: “It’s an intergovernmental decision on what kind of action: intervention, peacekeeping, military intervention or a referral to the international criminal courts.”

“We urge that action be taken immediately. If there is doubt or hesitation it is because people are assessing the value of military intervention in places like Libya, Syria and Afghanistan.”

“It could become a long, drawn out war with no guarantees that civilians would not be harmed in that process.”

The UN high commissioner for human rights said Assad should face international justice.

“War crimes are being committed by President Assad’s forces — his security forces — and other groups allied to him,” the South African said.

“He is responsible and there should be a referral by the Security Council to the International Criminal Court.”

The former ICC judge said Assad had demonstrated a “manifest failure” of his obligation as a head of state “to protect your citizens and that would be the opening for international intervention — of whatever kind.”

UN-Arab League peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi yesterday urged international backing for a Syrian opposition offer to begin talks with the regime, which he proposed be held in UN offices.

Brahimi said opposition leader Ahmed Moaz Al-Khatib’s offer to negotiate with some regime figures “opened the door and challenged the Syrian regime to confirm what it constantly says about being prepared to hold dialogue.”

The envoy spoke at a news conference in Cairo after meeting Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby.

“Parties in Syria, the Arab region and the international community must deal with this initiative for it to succeed,” he said.

He added that holding talks “in one of the United Nations’ headquarters between the opposition and an acceptable Syrian government delegation would be a start to exiting the dark tunnel.”


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