No #3

The Financial Daily - - CONTINUATIONS -

had lost their lives since the be­gin­ning of the con­flict in March 2011.

Even that high num­ber was con­sid­ered a con­ser­va­tive es­ti­mate with the real death toll likely to be much higher, he said.

He said the ad­vance of Is­lamic State (IS) mil­i­tants into cen­tral Syria had taken vi­o­lence against civil­ians to a whole new level as the group con­tin­ued to com­mit hor­rific atroc­i­ties against those op­pos­ing its rule.

There had also been an in­crease in the use of bar­rel bombs by Govern­ment forces in Aleppo while mil­i­tants had cut off the wa­ter sup­ply to an area for dis­placed peo­ple, also in Aleppo, on sev­eral oc­ca­sions.

That kind of col­lec­tive pun­ish­ment was clearly a breach of some of the most ba­sic prin­ci­ples in in­ter­na­tional hu­man­i­tar­ian law.

Over­all, nearly 11 mil­lion peo­ple are in need of aid in Syria and 4.7 mil­lion of them live in ar­eas that are hard to reach.

There are still some 241,000 un­der siege in var­i­ous lo­ca­tions. Laerke in­formed that the UN has now sent nine ship­ments to Syria from neigh­bour­ing coun­tries and more are planned over the fol­low­ing month.

UNHCR said there are wor­ry­ing signs that the jour­ney out of Syria is be­com­ing tougher, with many peo­ple forced to pay bribes at armed check­points pro­lif­er­at­ing along the bor­ders.

Refugees cross­ing the desert into eastern Jor­dan were be­ing forced to pay smug­glers hefty sums (rang­ing from $100 per per­son or more) to take them to safety.

Ms. Flem­ing said that UNHCR is also deeply con­cerned for the well-be­ing of sev­eral hun­dred Syr­i­ans trapped in­side a refugee camp in Al Qaim, Iraq, af­ter UN agen­cies and in­ter­na­tional non­govern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tions were forced to aban­don their of­fices and ware­houses.

While donors had con­trib­uted more than $4.1 bil­lion to suc­ces­sive re­gional re­sponse plans since 2012, more than $2 bil­lion more is needed by the end of 2014 alone to meet the ur­gent needs of refugees. "The re­sponse to the Syr­ian cri­sis has been gen­er­ous, but the bit­ter truth is that it falls far short of what's needed," Guter­res said. - APP

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