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29 January 2013

Most of those who made the journey on this night were women and children. Some had walked for hours, others for days, coming from cities as close as Daraa and as far as Aleppo. (..) Jordan's Border Guard said the border will remain open but that the exodus from southern Syria has severely taxed resources.


25 January 2013

As the peaceful uprisings that began in March 2011 morphed into a devastating civil war, once self-indulgent Damascus residents found themselves trading their sweets for basic groceries and heating fuel, whose prices have skyrocketed. (..) On Friday, the authorities raised the price of diesel by 40 percent per liter to 35 Syrian pounds ($0.49). In the freezing winter, its value on the black market has shot up to 115 pounds ($1.62) a liter. (..) Like its pastries, the spirit of the capital has waned. Scores of factories have closed, electricity is in short supply and residents shiver at home because of a lack of heating oil.


23 January 2013

Ongoing conflict in Syria has left its agricultural sector in tatters, causing wheat and barley output to slump by half and wreaking massive destruction on farm infrastructure, the United Nations' food agency said on Wednesday. (..) The mission, coordinated with both the Syrian government and the opposition, also found the conflict was causing major destruction of infrastructure and irrigation systems and farmers were struggling to fully harvest crops due to insecurity and lack of fuel.


23 January 2013

Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and, to a lesser degree, Iraq, all of them neighbors of the calamity unfolding in Syria, which is bleeding lives at the rate of more than 100 a day and refugees in excess of 100,000 a month. (..) Most can expect little in the way of assistance because the international community has yet to respond to the reality that the most violent and intractable of the Arab Spring revolts also is spawning a humanitarian catastrophe. A U.N. appeal last month for a record $1.5 billion to aid needy Syrians inside and outside the country has drawn few pledges. (..) Refugees in Lebanon are left largely to fend for themselves, finding whatever shelter they can and relying on the generosity of local communities.


22 January 2013

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says his top hopes for 2013 are to reach a new agreement on climate change and to urgently end the increasingly deadly and divisive war in Syria. The U.N. chief told The Associated Press that he’s also hoping for progress in (..) promoting political solutions in Mali, Congo and the Central African Republic, and providing energy, food and water to all people. Ban laid out this ambitious wish list in an interview before heading to the World Economic Forum in Davos this week, saying he plans to take “the uncommon opportunity” of being with some 2,500 government, business and civil society leaders in the Swiss ski resort to exchange views on these issues.


21 January 2013

A delegation of UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on Sunday visited Syrian Ministry of Health and held a meeting with Syrian Health Minister Saad al-Nayef. (..) Meanwhile, the OCHA delegation, comprising of the Emergency Directors from FAO, IOM, UNHABITAT, UNHCR, UNICEF, UNRWA, WFP and WHO, is set to visit the central province of Homs on Monday as part of their assessment mission. An estimated four million people in Syria are now in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, including at least two million who are internally displaced, recent data showed.


18 January 2013

U.N. regional refugee coordinator Panos Moumtzis said four million Syrians are in urgent need of assistance, including two million who are displaced inside the country. By June, the U.N. forecasts regional refugee totals to exceed one million Syrians. (..) In December, the United Nations appealed for $1.5 billion to fund humanitarian needs, one billion for the regional refugee crisis and the remaining half billion to help those inside Syria. That appeal is only five percent funded. The money is needed to meet basic needs including food, water, medical care, shelter and blankets for tens of thousands of families displaced by fighting in Syria.


17 January 2013

The fabled city of Damascus, the sweet "City of Jasmine", is now being squeezed by an ever-encroaching war. Queues for the basics of life - bread and fuel - grow ever longer. The daily soundtrack is the thud of government artillery, the crackle of gun fire.


16 January 2013

The situation for Syrian refugees is getting dire. Much has been reported about the worsening conditions for hundreds of thousands of Syrians taking up shelter just outside the country's borders, but inside Syria, the numbers are even higher.


15 January 2013

Jordan has witnessed a spike in Syrian refugees as temperatures have begun to rise and last week’s snow melts, relief officials said on Monday, reporting over 1,300 new arrivals in a two-day period. (..) The sudden influx has placed a growing strain on Jordan’s sole Syrian refugee camp the Zaatari camp outside Mafraq, where some 500 tents and several facilities were damaged by last week’s heavy rain and strong winds. In a bid to accommodate the rising number of new arrivals, officials are planning to open a second camp, a tented facility on the outskirts of the northern city of Zarqa, by the end of the month.