According to United Nations, Syria has been denying visas to western aid workers. UN is trying to overcome such in the hope of expanding its humanitarian operation in the midst of ever-growing needs.
It is estimated that Syria has 1.5 million people in need of assistance in the midst of the violence there and the UN has sent 60 expatriates to Syria to help them.
“We have a number of visas pending for international staff from a number of Western countries – the United States, Canada, the UK, France and one or two more – that are refused their visas because of their nationalities,” said John Ging who chaired the Fourth Syrian Humanitarian Forum.
“That is something we object to very strongly and are working with the Syrian government to overcome,” he added.
The issue on the visa denial by Syria is being taken care of by UN officials on a “daily basis”. They also say that they are upholding an agreement that expands the UN aid operation which was reached last June.
Based on the result of the survey which was carried out by UN agencies, the World Food Programme (WFP) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), John Ging says about 700,000 tonnes of wheat harvest in Syria this year will be lost.
About 4 to 5 million tonnes of wheat is consumed by Syria each year. But the last six years’ low harvest has forced the nation to import this staple. This, according to Ging, is something that they need to prepare for in order for Syria to cope.
“The principal challenge is insecurity on the ground and also a shortage in funding,” he said.
Such a problem with visa grant denials may not be encountered by countries that are members of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) where only an ESTA visa to USA will have to be acquired by an individual instead of personally applying for a US visa from the consulate office. Application for ESTA can be done online, so it is convenient for applicants. However, the holder of any ESTA to America is still subject to inspection by boarder officials.