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Humanitarian Response To Syrian Conflict ‘Half-Hearted At Best’

“The massacre in Syria rages on and yet we stand idle. We must realize that, to millions of Syrians trapped in the country, the virtual absence of humanitarian relief is nearly as arbitrary and cruel as the war itself,” Desmond Tutu, archbishop emeritus of Cape Town and a Nobel peace laureate, writes in The Guardian’s “Comment is Free” blog. “More than a million Syrians are leaving the country and their lives behind. Half of them are children,” he notes, and continues, “Across the border, the refugee camps, where help exists, are swelling in size and struggling to cope. Families are opening up their homes to those fleeing the conflict, in wonderful acts of kindness — but this is a huge burden to them. We cannot, and should not, rely on such generosity.”

“Help must be made available inside the country to all who need it. It is shameful that the few brave organizations who can provide relief must often do so in hiding, or, if not, are severely impeded anyway,” Tutu states. “What on earth will it take for this to finally happen?” he asks, and writes, “For two years, our so-called international community has allowed complex power plays to take priority over the terrible suffering of Syrians.” He continues, “In the absence of a political solution, there is simply no excuse for the lack of concerted, neutral humanitarian efforts to reach the millions who are suffering everywhere in the country,” adding, “Ultimately it falls to the Syrian authorities to give their blessing if the U.N. is to organize humanitarian access for medicine, food and blankets to reach all parts of Syria. But our efforts to achieve even this, and fulfill our deepest moral obligation to Syrians, have been half-hearted at best” (3/25).