UN aid for 1 million Syrians
The United Nations plans to distribute aid to 1 million Syrians
GENEVA - Syria's infrastructure has been significantly damaged in more than a year of conflict, water and electricity supplies have been disrupted and many families cannot meet their basic daily needs, a United Nations mission has found.
A confidential U.N. plan for responding to humanitarian needs, based on a joint assessment carried out with Syrian officials from March 18-26, was obtained by Reuters on Thursday.
The United Nations is preparing a major aid operation and its "Syria Response Plan" forms the basis of a $180 million appeal presented to donor countries last Friday at closed-door talks in Geneva.
More than 9,000 people have been killed in the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, who is under international pressure to honour a U.N.-backed ceasefire that went into force on April 12.
At least one million Syrians need humanitarian aid in the 10 provinces the U.N. team visited, most of which reported shortages of essential medicines and sharp rises in food prices, it said.
"Jobs and livelihoods have been disrupted, the cost of ... goods has risen and many can no longer meet their basic daily needs or access essential social services due to insecurity and financial strain," the document said.
"...housing, infrastructure and social service facilities have sustained significant damage in areas where armed hostilities have taken place, while shortages of fuel have affected electricity and water supplies," it added.
In some areas, sewage networks have been damaged, water has been contaminated and garbage collection has stopped, setting the stage for outbreaks of water-borne diseases such as cholera.
The six-month plan lays out 46 projects across 11 sectors including food, health, shelter, and water and sanitation.
But Syrian authorities must still approve the plan and issue visas for U.N. aid workers and customs clearances for shipments, it said. Staff will need security, including armoured vehicles.
Under the plan, the WFP would aim to provide food to 850,000 in all and its operations account for $85 million of the budget.
All these factors have made life much more difficult, in a country where "one-third of the population was already living under the national poverty line prior to the unrest," it said.