Humanitarian Access

Humanitarian Access Overview

May 24, 2011

Headlines & Opinion

2013 & 2012





Stand #WithSyria: Global Vigil for Syria 2014

March 11, 2014

A global vigil to bring attention to the humanitarian crisis in Syria will take place around the world this March. The civil war in Syria has claimed the lives of over 100,000 people and has displaced millions of women, men and children. The vigils seek to shed light on the conflict and spur concerted action from world leaders. On March 13 several iconic buildings around the world will be illuminated to urge the international community to take action.

#WithSyria was created to coordinate the global campaign. The website provides resources including a listing of vigils and events planned, and tools for creating your own vigil. #WithSyria includes a coalition of prominent organizations from around the world seeking 1) an end to the bloodshed in Syria, 2) Unimpeded humanitarian aid to those impacted by the fighting, and 3) A commitment from all side to inclusive peace-talks. 

UN Security Council Votes for Humanitarian Aid across Syria (Fars News)

February 25, 2014
Fars News

From: Fars News Agency, Feb. 23, 2014

The Saturday resolution does not threaten sanctions but it does express the council's intention to take "further steps" if the resolution is not implemented, Al-Alam reported.

The foreign-backed militants hold several areas in the country under siege, leaving tens of thousands of people suffering from lack of food and medicine.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the move, but said the resolution "should not have been necessary".

Section by Section Summary: Humanitarian Assistance Facilitation Act

January 27, 2014

HR 3526

The Humanitarian Assistance Facilitation Act of 2013

Section by Section Summary


To permit humanitarian assistance to civilian populations in areas of conflict or disaster when carried out in good faith and with certain safeguards.

Section 1. Short Title

The Humanitarian Assistance Facilitation Act of 2012.

Aiding Syria

January 21, 2014

In the days leading up to the Syrian peace conference taking place in Switzerland, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent reported that the government permitted humanitarian supplies to reach nearly 10,000 people living in the suburbs of Damascus.  While that is welcome news, other reports out of Syria indicate that aid is being used by both sides of the conflict to reward its allies and punish the other side. “The message from the regime is clear,” says one humanitarian who runs programs in Damascus. “‘If you are with us, we will assist you; if you aren’t, we will besiege you and starve you.’”

As world leaders gather to discuss the fate of millions of Syrians under siege, aid groups call on both sides to allow unfettered access to reach civilians in need.  “The very least that these different fighters can provide is a pause to allow the humanitarians to get in and provide that emergency relief,” WFP’s Syria Country Director Matthew Hollingworth said.

Humanitarian Assistance Facilitation Act Assigned to House Judiciary Subcommittee

January 23, 2014

The Humanitarian Assistance Facilitation Act (HR 3526), which was filed in November 2013, was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee's subcommitee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations on Jan. 9, 2014. The bill removes legal restrictions on nonprofit organizations seeking to provide humanitarian assistance to civilians in areas where terrorist groups operate and on peacebuilding groups working to end armed conflict.

UN/USAID Report: Somalia Famine Death Toll Higher Than Estimated, Inadequate Aid Among Factors

May 6, 2013

A drastic reduction in humanitarian assistance, widespread conflict and drought combined to make the 2011 famine in Somalia the most deadly in the past 25 years, a May 2013 study finds.  Commissioned by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSnet), the study estimates that between October 2010 and April 2012, nearly five percent of the region's population and 10 percent of its children died because of severe food shortages.  It also noted “that limited access to most of the affected population, resulting from widespread insecurity and operating restrictions imposed by several relief agencies, was a major constraint.” [p. 5] The presence of al-Shabab, a group on the U.S. terrorist list, in famine affected areas made legal restrictions an issue for aid groups.

STUDY: Talking to the Other Side- Humanitarian negotiations with Al-Shabaab in Somalia

January 9, 2014

Published by the Humanitarian Policy Group in December 2013, Talking to the Other Side –Humanitarian Negotiations with Al-Shabaab in Somalia is an in-depth study that sheds light on dynamics and details of negotiations between aid organizations and Al-Shabaab, primarily between 2008 and the famine of 2011.  It provides historical context to the impossible choices facing aid agencies and details how both Al-Shabaab and the actions of donor government

Humanitarian Access to Syrians Must be Respected by Assad and the U.S.

October 31, 2013
Nathaniel J Turner

An Oct. 25, 2013 Op Ed from Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “systematic denial of medical assistance, food supplies, and other humanitarian aid” to the Syrian people an “intolerable” act. Kerry’s piece comes in response to the unabated denial of humanitarian access perpetrated by the Assad government, and exacerbated by the patchwork of opposition groups also blocking and diverting aid.

Foreign aid agencies seek access to Pakistan quake victims (Thomson Reuters Foundation)

October 14, 2013
Thomson Reuters Foundation

From Nita Bahlla, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Oct. 9, 2013