ST. PETERSBURG, Russia and WASHINGTON, Sept. 4, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As world leaders gather in St. Petersburg for the G20 summit, NGO alliance InterAction urges them to redouble diplomatic efforts on Syria and focus on responding to the dire humanitarian needs in the region, where the number of refugees eclipsed two million this week.
"The heavy toll of this two-year conflict on the Syrian people mounts every day," said Samuel A. Worthington, president and CEO of InterAction. "While humanitarian organizations continue to provide life-saving assistance, more must be done to bring about a solution to end the conflict and to alleviate suffering. Amid the escalating conflict, it is the world's responsibility to ensure civilians are protected as much as possible."
The possibility of an external military intervention in Syria is looming over the summit. As an organization that focuses on international relief and development, InterAction does not take a position on whether the United States and other NATO powers should take military action. If the United States and its allies take action, however, it must comply fully with international humanitarian law, taking every possible precaution to minimize harm to civilians. Further, any possible action must consider potential disruption to humanitarian operations and ensure that agencies are able to maintain their presence and deliver life-saving assistance.
"We are concerned that an escalation of the war in Syria from any quarter will have negative humanitarian consequences. The war in Syria has already engulfed the entire country, trapping its population in daily exposure to violence, while refugee flows threaten to overwhelm its neighbors," Worthington said. "Whatever action is taken should be part of a longer term solution that will end the suffering of the Syrian people."
More than 100,000 people have been killed since the war broke out in March 2011, the UN said in July. Children make up about half of the 2 million refugees who have fled so far, with refugees leaving at a rate of nearly 5,000 people per day now, according to UNHCR. Within the country, 4.65 million Syrians are displaced, according to the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
InterAction is the largest alliance of U.S.-based nongovernmental international organizations, with more than 180 members. Our members operate in every developing country, working with local communities to overcome poverty and suffering by helping to improve their quality of life. Visit www.interaction.org.