U.N. aid chief says 2.5 million Syrians need assistance

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 16, 2012 3:54 AM

DAMASCUS (Reuters) - United Nations humanitarian chief Valerie Amos said on Thursday as many as 2.5 million people were in need of aid in Syria, where President Bashar al-Assad's forces have been fighting rebels seeking his overthrow for 17 months.

Amos, speaking in Syria where she met Prime Minister Wael al-Halki and other officials this week, urged government forces and rebels to do more to protect civilians caught up in the violence.

"Over a million people have been uprooted and face destitution. Perhaps a million more have urgent humanitarian needs due to the widening impact of the crisis on the economy and people's livelihoods," she told reporters in Damascus.

"Back in March, we estimated that a million people were in need of help. Now as many as 2.5 million are in need of assistance and we are working to update our plans and funding requirements."

Amos said she met displaced families in Damascus and the town of Nabk northeast of the capital who were housed in public buildings and schools, which are due to reopen next month.

"Their needs for health care, shelter, food, water and sanitation are growing," Amos said, adding that emergency aid provided by the United Nations and other organizations was limited by insecurity, restrictions on operations and lack of funding.

(Reporting by Marwan Makdesi; Writing by Dominic Evans; Editing by Jon Hemming)