The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) [official website] issued a statement on Friday calling for increased aid for the 2.5 million Syrians affected by the ongoing civil uprising against President Bashar al-Assad [JURIST news archive]. The aid request for the Syria Humanitarian Response Plan was raised from US$180 million to US$347 million [UN News Centre report] after the number of Syrians in need doubled since July. Also on Friday the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) [official website] announced a significant increase in the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Syria, requesting US$41.7 million [UN News Centre report] of the increased funding to go to support IDPs. The requests for increased international humanitarian aid came on the same day Syrian rebels claimed they freed 350 prisoners [NYT report] from a Syrian security building in the city of Aleppo, which for months has been at the center of the armed conflict between rebels and government troops. Last month Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] published a report holding the Syrian government responsible for human rights violations in Aleppo [JURIST report], including allegations that Syrian security and military forces routinely used live fire against peaceful demonstrations in and around the city, killing and injuring protesters and bystanders. The Syria Humanitarian Response was launched at the Syria Humanitarian Forum in Geneva and focuses on the priority areas of health, food, livelihoods, infrastructure rehabilitation, community services, education and shelter.
Last month UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon [official website] requested an immediate investigation [JURIST report] into civilian deaths in Syria. Earlier in August the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) [official website] ceased its work [JURIST report] in the country, with UN Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Edmund Mulet stating that the mission's work had to be stopped because the two conditions required by the UN Security Council [official website] to renew the UNSMIS mandatethe cessation of the use of heavy weapons and the reduction in violence from all sideswere not met. Also in August UNSMIS chief Lieutenant General Babacar Gayee expressed concern [JURIST report] about the growing number of civilian casualties in violent clashes between government forces and armed opposition groups. In June a UN commission stated that Syrian forces may have been responsible [JURIST report] for the killing of more than 100 civilians in Al-Houla in May. President al-Assad denied [JURIST report] the allegations stating that "not even monsters" would carry out the attacks.