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  1. ITV Report

'Syrian refugees ultimately want to go home', says UN's aid chief

The UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Aid, Stephen O'Brien welcomed the Syria funding conference on Thursday but said what refugees will ultimately want is to get home.

He told ITV News that it takes an average 17 years for refugees fleeing war to return to their homeland and said that funding raised by the international community will help them return home "as soon as possible".

"Part of what we did today in London... was to say we need to make sure that we invest behind the humanitarian approach to help people stay in their own homes," O'Brien said.

It is absolutely devastating the suffering that is going on... over so many years and that's why today in London it was so important to raise the means by which we can deliver the relief and the aid.

But let's be clear, there is only one solution to a humanitarian crisis and that is for the cessation of hostilities and for the politics to be fixed.

– STEPHEN O'BRIEN, UN HUMANITARIAN AFFAIRS COORDINATOR

The former Conservative MP and International Development Minister defended the UN's stance to get unimpeded access to Syria by being ready to negotiate with President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

There's a very clear mandate of the United Nations is that we have to be totally impartial, totally independent and totally neutral. To make sure that the sniper's bullets are not trained upon the truck drivers in the convoys, we have to negotiate to get those aid packages through. That is why it is important to negotiate with everybody, including even those who are party very much to the war, such as the Assad regime.

– STEPHEN O'BRIEN, UN HUMANITARIAN AFFAIRS COORDINATOR

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