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Syria and UN-Habitat sign a MOU on enhancing urgent response to cities

20140401-124210_h536483Local Administration Ministry and United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN–Habitat) on Tuesday signed a Memo of Understanding on enhancing urgent response to cities and assessment of the effects of the crisis on them.

Prime Minister Wael al-Halq said Syria has dealt positively with all local, Arab and international initiatives and adapted itself with all international resolutions aimed at reaching peaceful solution to the crisis, stemming from its commitment to the international legitimacy.

In his opening speech in a workshop on urged response to cities, following the signature, Premier stressed that Syria has been facing a multi-dimension war funded by regional and international countries, which has reflected negatively on the livelihood of the Syrian people due to the destruction of their houses, properties and infrastructure, adding the government is carrying out recovery measures as to provide its citizens with all needs.

The government has allocated SYP 50 billion to the Reconstruction Committee for this year and distributed 7 million food baskets, in addition to 1.5 million medical kits so far, al-Halqi said, adding that the government is committed to implementing the plan of humanitarian response signed between the Foreign and Expatriates Ministry and the UN, in the framework of which the MoU was signed today.

Prime Minister said the number of displaced persons has increased due to acts of armed terrorist groups, resulting in the need to build new housing centers as the current 976 makeshift centers are no more sufficient, noting the government is building about 3,500 new housing units in many province as to settle more than 20 thousand displaced persons.

For his part, Deputy Prime Minister for Services Affairs, Minister of Local Administration Eng. Omar Ghalawanji expressed appreciation for the international organizations which have supported the efforts of the Syrian government, particularly the UN-Habitat.

In turn, Resident Coordinator of UN activities in Syria, Coordinator of Humanitarian Affairs, Yacoub al-Hilo, stressed the importance of strategic partnership between UN and the Syrian government.

Al-Hilo added he has a total belief in joint cooperation, adding the Syrian government is exerting huge efforts in regard to humanitarian and developmental sectors.

The two-day workshop discusses presentations on the impact of the crisis on the Syrian cities, with focused being placed on the humanitarian situation, needs and priorities. The targeted cities are mainly those of Deir Ezzor, Daraa, Hama, Aleppo and Lattakia, in addition to Barzeh and Maaraba areas in Damascus.

International Cooperation Director at the Local Administration Ministry Rafah Breidi said the workshop, held at Damascus-based Sheraton Hotel, aims at providing a work frame for cooperation with the Syrian government on specifying the needs of the displaced families and other affected people by the crisis.

She added that the goal is to implement programs to meet immediate needs so as to reach a stage of relief, recovery and reconstruction in the Syrian cities, including infrastructure and housing rehabilitation.

She clarified that the cooperation focuses on providing a comprehensive evaluation of the cities and the impact of the crisis on them and building a municipal information system on the local level to better support the process of rehabilitation, reconstruction and housing so as to meet urgent and temporary needs of the affected people.

Acting Regional Director of the UN-Habitat Tareq al-Sheikh said the UN program is working on rehabilitating local expertise to be able to better face the emerging challenges due the crisis in the country and support local societies.

For her part, Acting Coordinator of UN-Habitat office in Syria Ansa Masoud pointed out the UIN program is working with local teams to set the priorities in each city, noting that the priority for Aleppo city is to secure makeshift centers for displaced people, while in Homs it focuses on activating economic life to ensure return to normal life.

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