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Syria: "Where have the people gone?"

June 5th, 2012
04:49 PM ET

“It was the most terrible thing.  I was the first person to go in after there had been fighting consecutively for about twenty six days.  There was no one left.  There was no one for us to go in and support and help.  I kept asking the question:  Where have the people gone?”

That's what Valerie Amos, United Nations Undersecretary for Humanitarian Affairs, about her recent visit to Homs.  Amos has been an eyewitness to the human cost of the ever widening civil war in Syria.

“I was shocked by what I saw in Baba Amr,” said Amos, discussing a suburb of the besieged city with Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday.  “It was a neighborhood that I had been told housed fifty to sixty thousand people.  It was completely destroyed.  There wasn’t a single building that was left untouched.  Very clear evidence of tanks rolling over pavement, of large mortal shells having been used, a few people scrabbling around trying to collect their possessions.”

The devastation, she added, was spreading:  “We’re seeing this repeated in city after city in Syria.  And this is the horrible thing - that it is civilians, it is children…About half the people who have left as refugees are children and adolescents…The trauma that they are going through, that their parents are going through, it’s something that we all feel very strongly and the government and the rebels have to recognize this.  They hold the responsibility.”

Quite complex, bureaucratic procedures

“It’s taken us too long to do this,” said Amos.  “I was there (in Syria) in early March…we were very clear that about a million people need help. Our progress since then…has been very slow.”

Hampering the humanitarian effort, of course, has been the escalating conflict.  However, Amos insists there are political, even bureaucrat, obstacles as well:   “The kind of effort we’re talking about needs a lot more people on the ground.  So we’ve been trying to work with them (the Syrian government) to say let’s get the visas agreed; let’s get people in.”

In response, the Syrian authorities “are very keen on putting in place quite complex bureaucratic procedures, getting clearance every single step of the way.  Our experience, when you’re dealing with these urgent humanitarian issues, is that you have to get in there, you have to help people immediately.  It’s what people are looking for.”

soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. Anyways

    Easy. CNN kill them all

    June 5, 2012 at 7:26 pm | Reply
    • RUObjective

      People like you and @Assad the Lion are WORSE than any of those people in Syria, and it's as unAmerican as a human being can get. YOU are the kind of people that are ruining democracy right at home.

      They may be Muslims, and they may subscribe to a bestial religion, but they are still human beings. Whether they value human life or not shouldn't change OUR value for human life. Unless you're particularly feeble-minded. These are people. Maybe detestable, but still people.

      So you think genocide is the solution. What a guy! Right up there with our worst warhawks. I don't think you even know what "other people" even means. To you, they're probably like the "enemies" in a video game – kill 'em all, yeah boy! Blow 'em all up! Hose 'em down!" You belong in a zoo, but a self-respecting zoo probably wouldn't have you. Even a freak show has its standards.

      You are the kind of maggots that make people wish that birth control could be made retroactive.

      June 6, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Reply
  2. ASSAD THE LION

    Bravo Assad, Please Continue, Your Doing The World A Favor, These Kind Of Things Need To Happen Every Few Years To Weed Out The Bad Blood Of The Muslim Radicals

    June 5, 2012 at 9:09 pm | Reply
    • Cook2half

      assad the criminal more likely ...

      June 6, 2012 at 7:44 am | Reply
    • Brad Williams

      You have to be joking, right.

      Assad is one horrible,brutal, disgraceful leader on his way out. I would be very embarrased if he was my leader. The world is leaving Syria in a number of ways, and your leader had his chance, he choose the wrong path. He should face the death penalty for decisions made in the last 15 months. Are you richer or poorer because of him?

      June 6, 2012 at 9:00 am | Reply
      • bobo

        Has Bush received the Death Penalty? Are you richer or poorer because of Bush?! Lets not be guided with emotions here just because CNN wouldn't publish the killings and damage caused the by the US wars in the way it is publishing what's going on in Syria.. FYI Majority of Syrians are in support of this guy as their leader so IF democracy exists in Syria, I would put down what's going on in Syria as "Armed Uprising" against a democratically elected government... If this "Armed Uprising" was happening in any other Western country or the US, I am sure these governments would use the whole force of the armed forces at their disposal to crash them.. Wouldn't you agree?! ;-)

        June 6, 2012 at 9:15 am |
  3. kuduson

    where was CNN when Israel invaded Lebanon and killed thousands of innocent people
    destroyed their dwellings to rubble
    and what did the powers be say
    they are terrorists they deserve it
    Palestine it was the same
    now when syria does the same to terrorists
    why the big fuss

    June 6, 2012 at 12:09 am | Reply
  4. Bonner

    It looks like the Caimanpour is not having much traction here and as Kuduson rightly deliberates it seems so much like the Western one eyed cyclop leading the hate blinded blind of the FSA council are also having difficulty concocting a Libya. Could be both wrong plan with wrong participants.

    June 6, 2012 at 1:57 am | Reply
  5. yangyun0

    Sounds like what the Israelis would do. If you didn't tell me it happened in Syria once I'd think it was what happened in Palestine a million times already

    June 6, 2012 at 3:26 am | Reply
  6. Souri

    No one was left because the murderer-in-chief Assad and his criminal thugs have destroyed most of the city after pillaging, raping, and bombarding its neighborhoods and residents. Of course, while the civilized world watch silently
    ( with approval ???) for the wondrous miracles that this s.o.b. is doing. No one lifted a finger to try and stop him. The UN and the security council that will go hysterical when a polar bear gets stranded in Antarctica, were at loss of words for the miracles that Assad's army and his Shabiha criminals are doing in Syria. In eastern cultures, silence is the sign of approval. Is that the case here ??? does the world condone killing and raping and destroying and burning ?????????????????????????????????

    June 6, 2012 at 5:05 am | Reply
    • Allan

      There are no polar bears in Antarctica!

      June 6, 2012 at 7:14 am | Reply
    • Todd

      Well, of course we should get excited if a polar bear gets stranded in Antartica. It is a very long swim from the Arctic were they actually live.

      June 6, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Reply
    • RUObjective

      WE in the West do not automatically equate silence with agreement. If they do so over there, that's their problem. Must WE abide by all their cultural idiosyncrasies? Can't THEY, for once, recognize that silence, in OUR culture (which is as legitimate as their own) does NOT mean either indifference or agreement with the atrocities? Besides which, why should OUR silence, or even our agreement, matter to them? Shouldn't they be much more concerned about the SILENCE from the Arab League? Why haven't they weighed in heavily on this situation? Maybe with military? THEY are the people who share similar cultures, and they are also Muslims. That gives them standing in the Islamic world. WE have precisely NONE. If anyone ought to interfere, it should be them. Why aren't THEY wailing and gnashing their teeth over the story about slaughtered babies? I've never known Muslims to FAIL to do so when Muslims get killed anywhere. So is it possible they know more than we do? Like maybe that there ARE no slaughtered babies? ALL we are allowed to know about it is coming from Muslims – who LIE to us because they're required to, and from our media, all of whom have agendas not usually in the best public interest. So how can we know diddly about those stories?

      "Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me." We got wazooed into interfering in Libya, thinking the Arab Spring wanted democracy, when it was precisely the opposite that they really DID want. These Syrian rebels in the opposition, are they also Arab Springers? Is it just possible they concocted a slaughtered-baby story specifically to lure us into military action on their side? Would they do that to us? Those nice, peaceful, tolerant, HONEST Muslims?

      One thing I do know for sure is that there is a lot of killing and suffering going on. I can't help my reaction of grief and anguish for those things, but I'm not fool enough to want us to leap into battle over stories that might be total fiction. Or, if not fiction, it's something that one side is doing and the other isn't, but that other side would be just as inclined to do it themselves, if they wanted to. The adult Muslims, on either side, don't have much sympathy from me, but the little ones do. Yet there isn't anything I can do to help them, nor can the U.S. There are also non-Muslims there, also suffering, you may be sure, and I truly wish we could help them somehow. Life is going to be grim for them, no matter who wins.

      It is basic to Islam to live by the sword. They also know it means they'll probably die by the sword, too. They seem to find that acceptable. Even though it horrifies us. Let them deal with this mess in their own way, because they WILL do so anyway, no matter what we do.

      I don't want to spend one dime or even the life of an American kitten, trying to "resolve" their political/sectarian war. Neither side deserves our respect or our help. I can wish it were otherwise, but I didn't make the rules that are in action over there; they did. So let them live, and die, by their own set of rules.

      It sure stinks, though, doesn't it? Somebody over there is trying to manipulate us into going to war for them.

      Let's let them down on that one, okay?

      June 6, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Reply
  7. bobo

    @Valerie Amos, UN Under-Secretary-General, – She is full of sxxt... just listen the crap she is on about.. I didn't hear her speaking like this when the infrstructure of Palestine and Iraq was elevld to the ground.. Very biased and these people get paid to talk rubbsih on TV and pretend that they are helping the victims.. UN is one BIG thieving USELESS organisation. Good for NOTHING..

    June 6, 2012 at 9:24 am | Reply
  8. jimmy lim

    Therefore its only fair that Arab/league/US/EU bomb Assad n its HQ in Damascus just like Libya to give Assad a taste of its own medicine

    June 6, 2012 at 9:45 am | Reply
  9. Schizoid

    I have lost all hope for a peaceful solution to syrian conflict, both sides are completely unwilling to get out of the streets and sit down to negotiate, the oppossition just wants to seize power, Assad just wants to remain as lord king of Syria, and other countries have only added more fuel to the fire by providing money, guns and aparently, even suicide bombers (ever seen that video of saudis auctioning people to use as human bombs?).

    This wil probably end in 3 ways:

    1) Assad crushes the rebels and ends ups killing another 10.000 civilians in the process.
    2) Western coutries intervene like in lybia (very unlikely)
    3) The rebels countinue their guerrilla war, seizing more advanced weaponry, until assads runs out of ammo and money due the economic sanctions. Both sides end up battling in the same conditions and a full scale civil wars starts, lasting years.

    June 6, 2012 at 9:48 am | Reply
  10. rexedie

    there is no real money to be made, or property to steal, for the U.S. to get involved..... just wait till the defense contractors and the pentagon (which they run) come up with a new ad campaign for the ameican sheep to become fearful about...
    then we can go head and start the slaughtering

    June 6, 2012 at 11:53 am | Reply
    • Wahyupangeran

      I have. First of all, it has 100% free and high quality LIVE video. And of coentnt, I have to say pretty fair and balanced. Easily more fair and balanced than Fox News. It's mostly guys with English accents. They sound British.

      July 9, 2012 at 2:41 am | Reply
  11. Ali Yawar

    Dear Christian, Pls. Contact me, I can resulve Afghanistan and the world problem in max. 3 hours,

    June 10, 2012 at 6:58 am | Reply

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