by Stephanie Parker
UNITED NATIONS, Oct. 1 (Xinhua) -- The international community should broaden their philanthropic focus to include other countries aside from Syria because there are "many more humanitarian crises in the world that are totally forgotten," the UN refugee chief said.
Antonio Guterres, the UN high commissioner for refugees (UNHCR) told Xinhua in a recent interview that it is very important for politicians and the global community to create an individual perspective for each country in crisis.
To make this possible, there needs to be more media attention to the Malian population, the Sudanese population, and the Congolese population.
Guterres, the former Portuguese prime minister, was in New York to attend a series of high-level meetings held on the sidelines of the General Debate of the 67th session of the UN General Assembly, a week-long event that opened here last Tuesday.
In the interview, Guterres pointed to Africa's urgent call for international aid, saying their appeal is falling behind Syria's.
According to the high commissioner, Mali, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), got unfortunately "no attention, there is no debate."
"There is less funding and we struggle to be able to cope with this huge challenge and we have millions of people suffering in very dramatic circumstances in different parts of the world," he said.
Recent UN reports said there was a "disturbing rise" in Mali in extremism, prevalent human rights abuses and extreme poverty. There has also been reportedly prevalent smuggling of arms, drugs and human trafficking in the northern part of the West African country.
The latest reports on Sudan and South Sudan have applauded the two countries on coming to some peaceful agreements, which included an oil and economic settlement.
However, the separation happened after years of war and thousands of people were displaced in the political cross fire.
To the south of Sudan and South Sudan is the DRC, which is dealing with rebel group attacks from the M23, an armed group consisting of mostly former fighters in an ethnic Tutsi rebel group that was integrated into the Congolese military under a 2009 peace deal.
Recent reports have linked the armed group with "forcible recruitment of hundreds of children who are being used as combatants and sex slaves and, in some instances, killed," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said at a UN high-level meeting on the DRC.
"Over 260,000 people have fled the violence since the mutiny began, and an additional 60,000 have fled over the borders into Rwanda and Uganda," Ban said.
Guterres said that the Syrian refugees need to be handled differently from the Malians, Sudanese and Congolese.
"Having a refugee camp in the middle of Africa, where people are not used to having most of the amenities of modern life," puts a new challenge to the humanitarian crisis, he said. "As you can imagine we are dealing with a population that comes from cities, comes from villages and many of them middle class."
"294,000 as of yesterday have asked for support and they have been resisted by the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and they are being provided assistance by other humanitarian agencies," he added.
Guterres said with the growing number and needs, "we struggle to be able to correspond with expectations of the refugees."
The state of Syria has left "2.5 million people need assistance inside of Syria," said the UN refugee chief. "We have already had more than half a million Syrians who have left the country."
Syria's four surrounding countries of Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan are taking in refugees despite their own domestic problems.
According to Guterres, refugees "are having a huge impact on their economies and on their societies and of course the proximity of the Syrian crisis has implications in their security."
"Jordan has a very difficult energy situation," he said, but it received Syrian refugees "on top of the 1.9 million Palestinian refugees" and hundreds of thousand of Iraqis.
"Most of them living with the Jordanian society and putting an enormous stress on their resources and their capacities," Guterres said.
In Lebanon, "the policy of the government is to have the people within the community, but of course this puts an enormous stress on housing and on different equipment," he said.
The Syrian crisis was one of the issues widely discussed during the week-long UN General Debate, which was concluded later on Monday.
"I believe that politicians will discuss more often, and parliament will vote in favor of more support, and humanitarian agencies will be able to also help those populations, as we try to do with the Syrian refugees," Guterres said.