GENEVA - Syria's infrastructure has been significantly damaged in more than a year of conflict, water and electricity supplies have been disrupted and many families cannot meet their basic daily needs, a United Nations mission has found.
A confidential UN plan for responding to humanitarian needs, based on a joint assessment carried out with Syrian officials from March 18-26, was obtained by Reuters on Thursday.
The United Nations is preparing a major aid operation and its "Syria Response Plan" forms the basis of a $180 million appeal presented to donor countries last Friday at closed-door talks in Geneva.
More than 9,000 people have been killed in the uprising against President Bashar Assad, who is under international pressure to honor a UN-backed ceasefire that went into force on April 12.
On Thursday, Syria blamed "terrorist" bomb makers for an explosion that damaged a building and killed 16 people in the city of Hama, where hostility to Assad runs deep
At least one million Syrians need humanitarian aid in the 10 provinces the UN team visited, most of which reported shortages of essential medicines and sharp rises in food prices, it said.
"Jobs and livelihoods have been disrupted, the cost of... goods has risen and many can no longer meet their basic daily needs or access essential social services due to insecurity and financial strain," the document said.
"...housing, infrastructure and social service facilities have sustained significant damage in areas where armed hostilities have taken place, while shortages of fuel have affected electricity and water supplies," it added.
In some areas, sewage networks have been damaged, water has been contaminated and garbage collection has stopped, setting the stage for outbreaks of water-borne diseases such as cholera.
The six-month plan lays out 46 projects across 11 sectors including food, health, shelter, and water and sanitation.
But Syrian authorities must still approve the plan and issue visas for UN aid workers and customs clearances for shipments, it said. Staff will need security, including armored vehicles.