The Middle East Institute is pleased to welcome Valerie Amos, the UN under-secretary-general for Humanitarian Affairs, for a discussion about the humanitarian crisis inside Syria. Now in its second year, the Syrian conflict has generated more than 1.3 million refugees and left 4.25 million internally displaced. According to the UN, some 6.8 million people are in desperate need of assistance. And yet security limitations on the ground in Syria have made the delivery of emergency relief extremely challenging. Amos will lay out the current conditions inside Syria as well as put forward suggestions for what more the international community can be doing to alleviate the crisis.
Valerie Amos is the under-secretary-general and emergency relief coordinator (USG/ERC) responsible for the oversight of all emergencies requiring United Nations humanitarian assistance. She also acts as the central focal point for governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental relief activities. Ms. Amos has a long-standing commitment to development, particularly on the African continent. As a Minister in the British Government, she worked with colleagues globally to tackle poverty in Africa by increasing aid flows through debt relief initiatives and promoting private-sector investment on the continent. She has been active for over 30 years on the promotion of human rights, social justice and equality on the African continent. Ms. Amos was the first black woman appointed to a British Cabinet and the first black Leader of the House of Lords. In the United Kingdom, she has played a central role in the Government's broader diversity and community-cohesion agenda. She is currently Chair of the Royal African Society, a member of the Fulbright Commission and a Fellow at the Centre for Corporate Reputation, University of Oxford.
Wendy Chamberlin has been president of the Middle East Institute since 2007. Previously, as deputy high commissioner for refugees from 2004 to 2007, she supervised the administration of the U.N. humanitarian organization. A 29-year veteran of the U.S. Foreign Service, she was ambassador to Pakistan from 2001 to 2002, when she played a key role in securing Pakistan's cooperation in the U.S.-led campaign against al-Qaeda in Afghanistan in the wake of the terrorist attacks against the U.S. on September 11.
Daniel Serwer is a Senior Research Professor of Conflict Management, as well as a Senior Fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations, at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Formerly vice president for centers of peacebuilding innovation at the United States Institute of Peace (2009-10), he led teams there working on rule of law, religion, economics, media, technology, security sector governance and gender. He was also vice president for peace and stability operations at USIP (1998-2009), where he led its peacebuilding work in Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan and the Balkans and served as Executive Director of the Hamilton/Baker Iraq Study Group. Serwer has worked on preventing inter-ethnic and sectarian conflict in Iraq and has facilitated dialogue between Serbs and Albanians in the Balkans.