Aid workers fail "some of world's most vulnerable"

Wed Oct 8, 2014 12:04pm EDT
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By Katie Nguyen

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - From Syria to South Sudan, humanitarians are failing to protect and reach some of the most vulnerable people caught up in war or hit by natural disasters, the United Nations' former aid chief Jan Egeland said on Wednesday.

Too many aid agencies are not good enough at fostering acceptance from warring sides in a conflict or investing in staff willing to work in particularly tough places such as Central African Republic, Egeland said.

"We, still, are not there at all for some of the most vulnerable communities on Earth. In Syria, we're still not reaching hundreds of communities," said Egeland, now the secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).

"It's the worst war on our watch. We're doing good work for refugees in neighboring countries but too few organizations are able and willing to go deep into Syria - the same in the Central African Republic, in South Sudan," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a telephone interview.

"I would have hoped we would be in places where there's the greatest need and not just where it's easier to respond."

Syria's civil war has left some 10.8 million people - half the country's population - in need of assistance. More than 6 million have been uprooted inside Syria and another 3 million have fled the country.