Humanitarian aid ‘will not solve’ Syrian crisis

Humanitarian aid ‘will not solve’ Syrian crisis

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Humanitarian aid ‘will not solve’ Syrian crisis

This file photo shows a hospital in Aleppo after a bombing. UN Commissioner Guterres has said that the crisis has a potential to spread across the region. AFP photo

The Syrian crisis will not be solved through humanitarian aid and only political will can bring an end to the conflict, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres has said.

The U.N. High Commissioner warned of the destructive consequences of a possible spillover of the conflict to other parts of the region. “We have been appealing to all those who have political responsibilities to stop this conflict before it is too late. If things go on as they are, not only could the number of refugees double or triple, but we could also face a very dangerous spillover of the conflict to other parts of the region,” Guterres told a group of journalists late on March 11.

He said Lebanon had witnessed a 10 percent increase in its population as a result of fleeing Syrian refugees. “Lebanon is in a very fragile political situation due to the composition of the society, and of the political system. There is a risk of a spillover of the conflict over the country’s borders,” he said. He also expressed the U.N.’s concern about Iraq, which is “witnessing increased violence” due to tensions between Sunni and Shiite communities. Jordan is also in a very difficult economic situation, which may turn into social unrest, he said. The crisis has the potential to spread to the Persian Gulf, and to aggravate the Palestinian-Israeli issue, Guterres added. He thus emphasized the significance of Turkey influence of stability within this “sensitive region.”

Turkey is ‘main pillar’ for stability

“Turkey is important for us as a potential sanctuary of protection in a very complex regional situation. Its economic power and its political situation obviously make Turkey a fundamental pillar for the stability of this region,” he said. With regard to the situation of Syrian refugees in Turkish camps, Guterres praised the “principle of non-discrimination and legal status” of those refugees in Turkey. “I have seen Arab Sunnis, Turkmen, Christians; there is no discrimination whatsoever in relation to people seeking to enter Turkey,” he noted.

Elaborating on humanitarian corridors into Syria, which are proposed by a number of countries including Turkey, the commissioner stressed the need for humanitarian access into every part of Syria, but declined to elaborate on the political aspect of the initiative. “Access to everybody is needed, wherever they are and whatever the entity that controls that territory. So there must be a way for humanitarian aid to reach everybody, wherever they are in Syria,” Guterres said.