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International Community Must Agree To Improve Humanitarian Access To Syria

Writing in his New York Times column, Nick Kristof recalls the story of Fawzia, a Syrian refugee who fled to Jordan after “a ferocious conventional shelling of her neighborhood,” and he states, “Talking to Syrians like Fawzia, it seems bizarre and narcissistic that in Washington there is talk of whether the Syrian crisis has been ‘resolved.’ Maybe the politicians’ crisis there has been eased, but the humanitarian catastrophe here just gets worse.” He adds, “Fawzia says she would like to see American missile strikes on her country, in hopes that an assault would degrade the Syrian army’s capacity for mass murder and shorten the war. That seems by far the most common view among refugees here, although it’s not universal.” Kristof states, “Whatever one thinks of a military strike to destroy some of [Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s] murderous air force — I’m in favor but have very little company in America — we should find common ground in insisting that international negotiations address not only chemical stockpiles but also humanitarian access in Syria.”

“Valerie Amos, the United Nations humanitarian chief, tells me that nearly seven million Syrians will need aid to survive,” he notes, adding, “Humanitarian access could save some of those lives, and also reduce the hemorrhage of refugees.” According to Kristof, “One-third of Syrians are now displaced. On an American scale, that would be equivalent to 100 million Americans having fled their homes.” He continues, “We may not be able to solve Syria’s problems. I’m not even certain that we can mitigate them. But we can try, and a starting point would be a big push for humanitarian access” (9/18).