UN relief chief 'deeply disappointed' by inability to visit Syria to assess situation
29 February 2012 – The head of United Nations relief operations said today that she was “deeply disappointed” that she has not yet been able to visit Syria to assess the humanitarian situation and meet with some of the country’s top officials.
Valerie Amos, the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, issued a statement voicing her disappointment and noting both her “repeated requests” to meet with top Syrian officials and the need for unhindered access by aid workers to people affected by the violence.
Thousands of civilians have been killed in the Government’s crackdown against a pro-democracy uprising that began in March last year, with the violence intensifying in recent weeks, and senior UN officials have repeatedly called for an end to the violence and for humanitarian workers to be allowed access to those in need.
“Given the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation, with an increasing need for medical assistance, food and basic supplies, improving access so that assistance can reach those in urgent need is a matter of the highest priority,” Ms. Amos said.
The Under-Secretary-General said she supported the call by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for a daily pause in hostilities so that aid organizations can evacuate the wounded and deliver supplies of food and medicine.
“Every day that we are not able to reach people, especially in the towns where there is heavy fighting, prolongs their suffering,” she said.
The UN and the League of Arab States have appointed the former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan as their Joint Special Envoy to deal with the Syrian crisis and to try to help broker a political solution. In Geneva this week, the Human Rights Council has also been holding an urgent debate on the situation.
The uprising in Syria is part of the broader Arab Spring protest movement that began at the start of last year and has toppled several long-standing regimes in North Africa and the Middle East.
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