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Lex Croucher

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Increasing Humanitarian Access to Syria

Posted: 27/09/2013 16:30

As I write this I'm looking out over the UN building in New York and its rows of flags from member nations. Right now world leaders are speaking at the annual UN General Assembly, discussing the issues that are most affecting their countries and the world as a whole. One issue that is central to this week is the ongoing Syria crisis; what I'm here to do is to make sure these leaders don't forget the voices of children caught up in this conflict.

Last month I travelled to Jordan with Save the Children to visit the Zaatari refugee camp on the Syrian border and hear the stories of the children affected by the Syria conflict. This month I'm with them again in New York continuing to campaign for humanitarian access to Syria so that help can reach the children inside Syria who so desperately need it. There are over three million children inside of Syria in need of help, but charities like Save the Children only have limited access to the country and so can only reach a few of the places where humanitarian assistance like food and medicine is needed.

A couple of hours ago I handed a petition to Baroness Amos, the Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief asking for world leaders to act and ensure that NGOs are able to get into Syria and help people in need, no matter whereabouts in the country they are. Baroness Amos has been pushing for humanitarian access to Syria already, and in fact I caught her just as she left a high-level meeting about the situation there. I'm hoping that she'll take the petition, which we gave to her in the form of a book filled with photos of children with their hand-made "Save Syria's Children" signs, into the rest of her meetings this week. Baroness Amos does incredible work at the UN and it was amazing to get the chance to meet her and to know that the petition is in the hands of someone who's really pushing for humanitarian access and ensuring that the people caught up in this conflict get help when they need it.

It's so important that the conflict in Syria isn't forgotten just because it's not central in the news anymore. The voices of the children who need help and of those who have loved ones still trapped inside Syria must be remembered, as the situation is not getting better. A report released by Save the Children this week described the worsening hunger problem, with four million people still in the country - half of them children - without enough access to food. Rising food prices, the danger involved in accessing food and the coming winter mean that parents are unable to feed their children, and starvation is becoming a problem that Syrian parents describe as second only to the danger of being caught up in the violence.

On Wednesday Nick Clegg pledged another £100million pounds to humanitarian aid for Syria, bringing Britain's response to an unprecedented half a billion pounds. This is amazing news, but money alone can't help - access is still needed to bring that aid to those who need it most. As this crucial week of the General Assembly comes to a close, important decisions need to be made. Surely if world leaders can agree on anything, it should be that humanitarian access is absolutely needed in Syria.

 

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