Canada 'horrified' by Syria violence, vows more help

Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird said on Saturday he was "horrified" by the violence in Syria as he visited a desert refugee camp in neighbouring Jordan.

"We are tremendously horrified to learn of this experience that so many people here face, the horrifying experiences that cause them to leave," their country, Baird said during a tour of the Zaatari refugee camp outside the northern Jordanian city of Mafraq.

Addressing reporters with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh at the UN-administered camp, which has so far taken in 6,000 people, Baird said Canada "has been a lead donor in support" of Syrian refugees.

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"We want to do more, we have come here to take a first-hand look at the situation to see what else we can do, to take that back," he added.

Baird said Canada plans to provide an additional $1.5 million to the World Food Programme to help the refugees.

"In Syria, Canada is also providing $2 million in health care supplies to doctors and health care providers to enable more responsive and better treatment for the tragedies going on the other side of the border," he said.

Canada has so far given $8.5 million in humanitarian aid to Syrians since the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad regime began in March 2011, making the country the third largest donor after the United States and Britain.

"Canada is providing Jordan with $6.5 million to (meet) the needs of Syrian refugees... We have agreed to task our officials to act expeditiously to identify the needs (of the Syrian refugees)," Baird later told reporters.

"Canada will continue to work with the international community," to resolve the Syria conflict, he said at a joint news conference with Judeh in Amman.

"We want the bloodshed and violence to stop, and in the interim we will provide all the assistance that we can to the victims of this terrible tragedy."

Jordan is hosting more than 150,000 Syrians, around 46,000 of whom are UN-registered.

It says limited resources hamper its ability to cope with the crisis, despite a recent $100-million grant from the United States to help accommodate the refugees.

"The solution to the crisis really must be a political one," Judeh told reporters.

"I fear that the chances (for a political solution) are dwindling."

More than 21,000 have died in the 17-month uprising in Syria.

© 2012 AFP

Source: AFP
Date: Aug 11, 2012