In an address to the General Assembly on 11 November, the Secretary-General said that the United Nations continues its efforts on three fronts: verifying the destruction of the country’s chemical weapons; providing life-saving humanitarian assistance; and achieving a political solution. Expressing grave concern at the humanitarian situation, he said that more than 9 million people in Syria need humanitarian aid, and assistance could not reach 2.5 million Syrians trapped in besieged and hard-to- reach areas. He urged the Syrian Government to ease the severe constraints it has imposed on humanitarian access. Noting that the humanitarian response was also hampered by a severe lack of funding, the Secretary-General announced that he would be convening a High-Level Pledging Conference for Syria in January in Kuwait. “The UN continues to work hard to convene the Geneva II conference before the end of the year”, he also noted.
Following a series of mortar attacks on schools in and around Damascus that killed nine children and injured 29 students, UNICEF issued on 12 November a statement expressing its outrage. “These barbaric acts must stop. All those with influence in Syria have a moral obligation to respect the sanctity of children’s lives and ensure that schools remain a place of safe refuge”, said UNICEF.
Syrian refugees in Lebanon
On 13 November, UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Derek Plumbly visited the localities of Zahleh and Joub Jennin in the Western Bekaa Valley to examine conditions of the Syrian refugees and the local communities hosting them as well as ongoing efforts by UNHCR, the Lebanese Government and other partners to meet their needs. Mr. Plumbly said Lebanon and the international community would continue to support the refugees, as well as the generous host communities during this difficult period and hoped for a political solution to the crisis in Syria that would enable them to return to their homes.
OPCW-UN Joint Mission in Syria
While the OPCW-UN Joint Mission is preparing the third phase of its programme related to the destruction of weapons and chemicals, it confirmed that one of the two sites that could not be visited earlier by inspectors due to security reasons had been verified. According to the Joint Mission, 22 of the 23 sites declared by Syrian authorities have been verified as of 6 November.
NB: The OPCW and the United Nations have launched a dedicated website for the OPCW-UN Joint Mission in Syria: http://opcw.unmissions.org. The website provides background on the establishment of the Joint Mission and its mandate, and presents a chronology of events with regard to OPCW and UN activities relating to the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons programme. It also features OPCW and UN public information materials and key documentation on the topic.
The World Food Programme (WFP) announced on 12 November that two interagency convoys had successfully supplied 35,000 people with food rations for one month in several places in Homs Governorate, which had been out of reach for nearly five months. According to the agency, the Syria response remains WFP’s largest and most complex global emergency and USD 30 million are needed weekly to meet the food needs of those affected by the conflict.
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Polio in the Syrian Arab Republic – update
11 November 2013 – Thirteen cases of wild poliovirus type 1 have been confirmed in the Syrian Arab Republic. Genetic sequencing indicates that the isolated viruses are most closely linked to virus detected in environmental samples in Egypt in December 2012. Wild poliovirus had not been detected in the Syrian Arab Republic since 1999. A comprehensive outbreak response continues to be implemented across the region. On 24 October 2013, an already planned large-scale supplementary immunization activity was launched in Syria to vaccinate 1.6 million children, in both government-controlled and contested areas.
Funding deficit of over $40 million threatens UN assistance to Palestinian refugees
11 November 2013 – The United Nations agency providing protection and assistance to some five million Palestinian refugees is facing a cash deficit that threatens to bring its operations to a standstill, its chief has warned, appealing to both traditional and new donors to step up support. (…)Funded by voluntary contributions, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East this year faces a $48 million funding shortfall which, if not covered, will prevent it from paying staff salaries and bring its operations to a standstill.
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