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For humanitarian workers, American offensive may spell trouble

September 11th, 2014
03:08 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

An expanded American offensive against ISIS in Iraq and Syria may complicate the work of humanitarian workers already trying to help desperate civilians in the region, David Miliband, president of the International Rescue Committee, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Thursday.

“Like any human being when I see the stories that are emerging from Syria and Iraq … you can only imagine feelings that I have.”

“But equally I know that I am responsible for a thousand people plus who are working day and night to try and bring humanitarian help, and they are working inside Syria, including in areas where ISIS operates,” Miliband, who was British foreign secretary from 2007 to 2010, said.

“It’s very important therefore that I stick to my humanitarian mission, which is to say that these civilians wherever they are, are in front of my mind, and that we have to make contingency plans for whatever military or other catastrophe or crisis develops.”

“We are helping people who are in the eye of the humanitarian storm at the moment and we see little signs that that storm is going to abate.”

A day before the thirteenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks, U.S. President Barack Obama pledged in a primetime address on Wednesday to destroy another terrorist group, ISIS, including through strikes in Syria if necessary.

The president also said that America would continue delivering humanitarian aid to those in need.

“I know that for every person we are helping there are many, many more who are not receiving help at all. And so there is immense frustration alongside the pride.”

“And the truth is it took three years to get a U.N. Security Council resolution about the humanitarian situation, committing to the kind of cross-border supplies and help that you referred to. But … two months on … we’re still talking about a minimal number of convoys that have managed to get across.”

“I can’t pretend to you that it’s anything other than deeply frustrating to find the most basic humanitarian effort is blocked at many stages.”

For those millions in desperate need of help – both in Syria and those who have fled – “the prospects for the next year range from bad to terrible.”

“For those civilians on the receiving end of terrible violence, or those who have fled the country, at the moment it’s a very long tunnel without much light.”

Miliband spoke with Amanpour on the anniversary of 9/11.

“The overriding lesson of the last ten years … is that whatever you do on the military side, whatever you do on the humanitarian side, whatever you do the diplomatic side, it needs to be within a political framework in which power is shared and in which conflict is contained within political boundaries.”

“That’s the lesson from Iraq, it’s the lesson from Afghanistan, and it’s the lesson from elsewhere. And that imperative does seem to have been understood.”


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Iraq • Latest Episode • Syria
soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Gerry Rot

    Sehr geehrte Frau Amanpour!

    Wer für den Frieden kãmpft, wird von
    Gott belohnt.

    Ihr Freund Herbert Reinders
    Christ und Musiker Chtistliche Seelsorge
    In allen Lebensbereichen.

    Schalom

    September 13, 2014 at 11:35 am | Reply
  2. Western Propaganda

    Supporting Nazis in Ukraine could mean trouble for someone.

    September 13, 2014 at 2:32 pm | Reply
  3. RLTJ's

    I think it is late for President Obama to change course, now. That would mean defeat and humiliations. Their strong fighting words against the IS will only kill the hostages. If they keep silent about it, the hostages will die the same. How sad a tight locked situation.

    In that situation, I think U.S. and UK are better doing things silently than ranting.

    September 14, 2014 at 8:38 am | Reply
  4. RLTJ's

    I think irregardless of the course of U.S. action in there today has no immediate effect to change the situation.

    Anything western or associated to western government, to include NGOs, should be deemed not safe.

    September 14, 2014 at 8:48 am | Reply

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