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Syria: UN official voices concern about lack of humanitarian access

0 May 2011 – The United Nations relief chief today expressed her concern about the lack of humanitarian access to parts of Syria, including key cities where many protesters have reportedly been killed after clashing with security forces.

Valerie Amos, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, issued a statement in which she voiced particular concern about the southern city of Deraa and the coastal cities of Latakia, Jablah, Baniyas and Douma.

Media reports say large numbers of protesters have been killed or detained in recent weeks as Syrian security forces respond to peaceful demonstrators that are part of a broader uprising across North Africa and the Middle East.

In her statement Ms. Amos noted that while her office has no confirmation of the number of people detained, injured or killed, “we remain concerned about alleged human rights violations.”

A planned humanitarian mission by her office to Deraa on Sunday has not taken place, “despite repeated requests to the Syrian authorities for access,” the Emergency Relief Coordinator said.

“The main objective of the mission was to independently assess the situation and plan a response if needed.”

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has also spoken out in recent weeks about the situation in Syria and underlined the need for an independent investigation into the killings.

Ms. Amos said she was alarmed by reports of the deployment of tanks and the shelling of residential areas in some cities.

“In addition, ongoing security operations may be preventing the provision of basic social services,” she said, citing the suspension and limited delivery of assistance to schools, clinics and community centres from the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) as worrying.

“Of particular concern are reports that many wounded do not seek help in hospitals for fear of reprisals.”

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