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ISIS Violence Exacerbates Humanitarian Crisis in Syria

© LOUAI BESHARA

SYRIA, MAALULA : A Syrian nun lights candles inside the historical church of Mar Taqla in the village of Maalula north of Damascus 24 December. All of the 6000 inhabitants of Maaloula still speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus Christ. Syria Christians are preparing to celebrate the birth of Christ in the middle of the holy Moslem month of Ramadan. While Syria's Moslem majority is spending the daylight hours fasting, Christians are busily preparing their own ceremonies across the country.

Vatican Radio - published on 08/21/14

Interview with Christopher Hamm, Representative of the High Commission for Refugees.

ISIS has attacked al-Thuwar in the northern part of Syria. In the course of three days the jihadists have seized dozens of villages and have threatened other refugees near Thuwar.

Since the so-called Islamic Caliphate has been established thousands of Iraqis have fled to Syria at a time when more than 15,000 Yazidis were heading to Syria. The concentration of ISIS in this area has exacerbated the humanitarian crisis in Syria where the number of emigrants has reached a million and a half and the number of refugees has reached 3 million in surrounding cities. Some of those cities have lost close to half of its population because of the conflict.

The death toll from three years of Syria’s civil war has risen to more than 191,000 people, the United Nations reported Friday. The figure, covering the period from March 2011 to April 2014, is the first issued by the U.N.’s human rights office since July 2013, when it documented more than 100,000 killed. The high death toll is a reflection of the brutality of Syria’s conflict, which has transformed into a complex, multi-layered war where various factions fight against each other. 

It also reflects the recent surge in deadly attacks by the al-Qaida-breakaway Islamic State group targeting rival militant groups, mainstream Western-backed Syrian rebels and Kurdish militiamen in northern Syria as it seeks to eliminate opponents and consolidate its hold on territory and resources. 

The situation remains difficult despite humanitarian assistance. Christopher Hamm, UNHCR Representative in Syria stated in an interview with Vatican Radio, “It is impossible for us to discuss progress when the conflict continues and the number of refugees in the surrounding cities continues to rise. The situation continues to worsen in a number of districts, including education where 4,000 schools were destroyed, a million children are deprived of an education and a million others may not be able to continue their studies. The humanitarian crisis affects the health sector also. There is still only half the number of national hospitals in operation and half the doctors and health workers have left the country.”

The percentage of UNHCR donations has declined this year, and everyone knows that this UN agency is experiencing financial difficulties and may not be able to secure all the needed winter equipment.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Tags:
Islamist MilitantsRefugeesSyriaUnited Nations
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