UN humanitarian aid official Valerie Amos to step down

UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos pauses during a news conference on Ebola at the United Nations in Geneva in this file photo from Sept 16, 2014. Amos plans to step down at the end of March after more than four years in the position, UN Secretary-Ge
UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos pauses during a news conference on Ebola at the United Nations in Geneva in this file photo from Sept 16, 2014. Amos plans to step down at the end of March after more than four years in the position, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced Nov 26, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

UNITED NATIONS, United States (AFP) - The top UN official for humanitarian aid, Valerie Amos, who oversaw international relief efforts in Syria and other trouble spots, is stepping down, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Wednesday.

Amos had been in the key post for more than four years, overseeing major aid operations in Syria as well as in South Sudan, Iraq and the Central African Republic.

Her departure comes as the United Nations is struggling to deal with a record number of displaced from conflict: 50 million people.

No reason was given for her departure, but a UN official told AFP "she feels it's time to move on" after having been in the position since August 2010.

Ban praised Amos for the extensive experience she brought to the position as under secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator.

She "has helped find solutions for people who are facing the worst experiences of their lives," said Ban in a statement.

The 60-year-old former British minister for international development "has tirelessly advocated for people around the world affected by disaster and conflict. For her, people have always come first," he said.

The announcement came the day after Amos reported to the UN Security Council on efforts to bring humanitarian aid to civilians in Syria, which has been torn by war for nearly four years.

Amos appealed for more cross-border aid deliveries and urged the 15-member council to push Damascus and all sides toward a political solution.

"I hope, for the sake of the people of Syria, that one is found soon," she told them.

Born in Guyana, Amos has been a lifelong campaigner for human rights and also served as British high commissioner to Australia.