Syria Crisis 'Threat To Global Security'

The crisis in Syria is the biggest threat to regional and global security that the world has witnessed in decades, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

Antonio Guterres told Sky News he hoped a UN Security Council resolution on humanitarian aid to Syria, passed unanimously this week, would provide much needed relief to besieged areas in the country.

"For the moment, the situation is not good at all but my hope is in the fact the Security Council approved the resolution and the Syrian Government said it's ready to discuss its implementation with the United National Security Council …

"I hope the resolution will now create the conditions to organise a method allowing humanitarians to go into these areas and to be able to provide assistance to all the civilians who are trapped there."

Mr Guterres also told Sky News that the UN estimates three million Syrians have fled the country because of the crisis.

"We are still having 100,000 new refugees per month and we have more than two-and-a-half million registered refugees but we are convinced that more than three million people have already left the country fleeing the war," he said.

His comments come as the UN released a photo of thousands of Palestinian refugees in the Yarmouk camp in Damascus desperately queuing for food parcels.

More than 18,000 people are under siege in the refugee camp and face shortages in food, medicine and clean water. The Yarmouk camp, in the south of Damascus, has witnessed some of the worst fighting in the Syrian capital.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees described conditions as "apocalyptic" and said the delivery of 6,500 food parcels and 10,000 polio vaccinations were "a drop in the ocean" compared to the needs of residents. 

As conditions within Syria continue to deteriorate, millions have fled into bordering countries seeking refuge. Mr Guterres acknowledged it was placing a huge strain on the economies of countries such as Lebanon and Jordan and is urging the international community to share the burden.

"Lebanon today has a number of refugees that, if compared proportionally, would mean 15 million refugees in France, 32 million in Russia or 71 million in the US. It's a miracle that Lebanon has been able to cope with this challenge. Massive support from the international community and massive solidarity is necessary for these countries to cope with this challenge."

Despite pledging £600m in humanitarian aid Britain was recently criticised by human rights organisations for not opening its borders to more Syrian refugees.  The Government agreed last month to allow in 500 of the most vulnerable Syrian but the UN's High Commissioner says EU states need to do more.

"We are making very strong appeals, first of all, for all borders to be open not only in the region but also in Europe.

"It really breaks my heart to see Syrians who are not able to enter the border of one member of the EU or Syrians who have to die in the Mediterranean drowning because they can't find a safe way to reach Europe. Borders need to be opened, more positive visa policies need to be established."

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