Syrian refugees retaliate against the cold
Refugees in a Jordanian camp attack aid workers, frustrated after cold winds and torrential rains destroy their temporary homes.PT1M0S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2cfdk 620 349 January 9, 2013
BEIRUT: The World Food Program said Syria's civil war has blocked the United Nations agency from delivering aid to at least 1 million people who are in desperate need of help.
The Syrian Arab Red Crescent, the UN agency's local partner, has been stretched to capacity and the violence between forces loyal to the President, Bashar al-Assad, and the armed opposition has prevented aid workers from reaching needy Syrians, an agency spokeswoman, Abeer Etefa, said.
Truck drivers have been reluctant to transport food into conflict areas and World Food Program staff members have had to ride in armoured vehicles to monitor food distribution in some areas, Ms Etefa said.
Survival … a child helps collect wood in a camp near Azaz. Photo: AFP
She said the UN agency has also had difficulty accessing its main warehouse in Damascus, the capital.
''There are serious bread and fuel shortages, with large numbers of Syrians who are displaced and seeking shelter,'' she said. ''We are already helping 1.5 million people in Syria, but we estimate that 1 million are still in need of food assistance.''
Damascus and surrounding areas have seen intense fighting. Airstrikes have targeted rebel-held areas, and anti-government fighters have carried out assassinations and set off bombs in the city. Conditions have forced the World Food Program to find alternate access points into Syria, including sending food by truck from Lebanon instead of relying on the main harbour in Tartous. Shipments to the port were cut off after a shipping company refused to deliver there, but have since resumed.
An estimated 597,240 Syrian refugees who have fled the violence are facing harsh winter weather, many equipped with only flimsy canvas tents and insufficient clothing.
In northern Jordan, a riot broke out on Tuesday over bread shortages at the Zaatari refugee camp near the Syrian border, an aid worker said. No more information was immediately available. Torrential rain has fallen at Zaatari during the last two days, making some parts of the camp uninhabitable. Twenty-four families were moved to prefabricated huts because of mud and pools of water, Muhammad Askar, a spokesman for the UN refugee agency said.
''The problem is that there are only 2500 of these prefabricated huts from Saudi Arabia. This is not enough to provide the necessary humanitarian assistance,'' Mr Askar said.
Also on Tuesday, the Yarmouk refugee camp in southern Damascus was shelled and saw fighting between Syrian rebels and pro-government supporters. The pro-opposition Syrian a British non-governmental organisation, said four people in the camp were killed by shelling and a fifth by a sniper.
Syria's 22-month-old civil war has polarised Yarmouk's Palestinians, splitting them between the pro- and anti- Assad factions. In December, the camp was shelled as pro-rebel fighters who tried to take it over.
Los Angeles Times