Day 1,212: Syria needs more than a UN special envoy


Syrian children play in a bomb crater flooded with water from a broken mains in the northern city of Aleppo.


Fadi al-Halabi

Today is Day 1,212 of the Syria conflict. As of yesterday, there's a new guy who's supposed to be resolving it.

Staffan de Mistura is the third man to be named Official UN Make-Syria-Better Fairy, replacing Lakhdar Brahimi who resigned May 31 due to a dearth of people believing in magic. Egyptian Ambassador Ramzy Ezzeddine Ramzy has been named Mistura's deputy (aka official carrier of special Arab League fairy dust). You can read the AP report with the straight news here.

One can only hope — against the testament of the past — that the UN has some fight left in it still and Mistura can succeed where others have failed: The past day has also brought fresh numbers on the severity of the crisis. AFP reports today that Syria's coastal provinces, some of the few places in Syria mostly free of bombs falling from the skies, have seen a population increase of 50 percent due to the influx of one million displaced people. NGOs are handing out food, hygiene kits, etc. just as fast as they can, but the same report says the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent in June "assisted 160,000 displaced people in Latakia and Tartus." Even if not all one million displaced need ICRC assistance, there is a big gap between 160,000 and one million. Yesterday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, one of the only institutions still attempting to keep a death count in Syria, said that the number killed in Syria's conflict has passed 170,000, one-third of those deaths civilians.

The UN's refugee agency this morning asked Europe to take more of Syria's refugees, attacking the policies of the past few years. Almost all of the refugees from the conflict are currently in Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey , and those countries, Reuters reports UNHCR's spokesperson Melissa Fleming as saying, have reached "saturation point." Meanwhile some European countries have tried to turn refugee boats around before they land, even when those boats are unfit for travel. "There was one case in which ... in the process of being turned around it capsized and many of the passengers died," Fleming said. Russia has actually sent some refugees back to Syria. Fleming attacked fearmongering in tabloids "claiming that floods of Syrians were about to arrive."

The conflict continues.