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U.N. Aid Agency Heads Appeal To World Leaders To End Syrian Violence

“World leaders must act urgently to break the diplomatic deadlock around Syria if they want to prevent the crisis from reaching a dangerous tipping point, the heads of the United Nations aid agencies said on Monday in a rare political appeal,” Reuters reports (Humphries, 4/15). In the statement, published as an opinion piece in the New York Times, U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos, World Food Programme Executive Director Ertharin Cousin, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres, UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake, and WHO Director-General Margaret Chan wrote, “We, leaders of U.N. agencies charged with dealing with the human costs of this tragedy, appeal to political leaders involved to meet their responsibility to the people of Syria and to the future of the region.” The aid heads outlined their efforts to date, but said, “The needs are growing while our capacity to do more is diminishing, due to security and other practical limitations within Syria as well as funding constraints. We are precariously close, perhaps within weeks, to suspending some humanitarian support” (4/15).

“The statement sought to hold the spotlight on the conflict in Syria in which more than 70,000 people have been killed and more than five million people have been driven from their homes, including one million refugees,” Al Jazeera reports, adding, “Al Jazeera’s Diplomatic Editor James Bays, reporting from the U.N., said the document was unusual not only because it was rare for the heads of the major U.N. agencies to write a joint letter, but also because of the tone they used” (4/16). “[T]he joint statement said the latest appeal was ‘not for more resources, needed as they are,’” BBC News notes (4/16). “We are appealing for something more important than funds. To all involved in this brutal conflict and to all governments that can influence them: In the name of all those who have so suffered, and the many more whose futures hang in the balance: Enough! Summon and use your influence, now, to save the Syrian people and save the region from disaster,” the U.N. leaders wrote in the statement (4/15). The authors of the statement also produced a video appeal, available on YouTube (4/15).