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IDPs crisis in Syria "staggering in proportions" - UN rapporteur

GENEVA, May 26 (KUNA) -- The UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs), Chaloka Beyani, on Tuesday described the displacement crisis in Syria as "staggering in its proportions." The crisis requires "an urgent and coordinated response from the Government of Syria and national and international humanitarian organizations working in close partnership," he said.
"The situation in Syria has turned into the world's largest displacement crisis with some 7.6 million people currently internally displaced and the prospects of new displacement high given the instability in many parts of the country," Mr. Beyani warned after an official mission to Syria - one of the first visits undertaken to the country by a UN appointed human rights expert since the crisis began.
"It is also an extremely complex and challenging crisis to respond to in view of the ongoing conflict, acts of terrorism and the overall security situation, as well as factors hindering an effective response, including the current shortfall in international funding for essential humanitarian assistance and the effects of international sanctions," said the expert.
Beyani visited Damascus, Homs and Lattakia from 16 to 19 May to consult widely on the situation of internally displaced persons.
"Those that I did see are likely to be those in relatively safe locations and with adequate conditions and services. I am deeply concerned by the situation of many more hundreds of thousands of IDPs and overstretched host families facing dire circumstances, insecurity and lack of basic needs," Mr. Beyani noted.
The human rights expert, whose visit took place as the ancient city of Palmyra fell to Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), creating a new flow of displaced persons, pointed out that the main responsibility falls on the Government of Syria, but acknowledged that "it undeniably faces an immense task and cannot cope alone." "I was shocked to learn from UN Agencies that funding for essential humanitarian assistance currently amounts to only 18 percent of requirements," he said.
"The international community must respond and urgently bolster support to humanitarian agencies working tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of the millions of innocent people affected by the displacement crisis in Syria," he noted.
Equally, he noted, the Syrian government must allow UN and other humanitarian actors to function freely in areas under its control and where security allows it, with unhindered access to all locations and IDP populations.
"While the Government's concern for their security is greatly appreciated, bureaucratic and other restrictions on full and rapid access to IDPs and at-risk communities are a major impediment to their work and effectiveness and should be lifted," he said.
"It is testament to the humanity, generosity and resilience of the Syrian people that the vast majority of IDPs have been housed with families and communities that have absorbed the huge influx of desperate people," the expert noted.
The Special Rapporteur will produce a full report and recommendations to be presented to the UN Human Rights Council. (end) ta.msa