UN urges government cooperation in reaching 3.5 million Syrians
Kamran Jebreili, Associated Press
Needless restrictions on aid convoys are making it difficult to reach millions of Syrians in need, says United Nations humanitarian chief Valerie Amos, who called for cooperation from the Syrian government on Friday.
She said that "complicated approval processes" are blocking much-needed relief. "The administrative arrangements that have been put in place for clearance for our convoys are quite convoluted," Amos told Reuters in an interview after briefing the U.N. Security Council about how much-needed aid is still not reaching many in Syria.
A month ago, the U.N. Security Council achieved a rare consensus to demand rapid and unimpeded aid access to Syria, including borders, but in a report this week chief Ban Ki-moon said that it remains "extremely challenging." He criticized both government and rebels for blocking access.
"3.5 million people can be reached just ... by giving consent, literally with a stroke of a pen, allowing the UN to use border checkpoints, all of them," U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power told reporters.
She said the lack of cooperation was part of the Assad regime's "predations and bureaucratic stalling."
The Syrian Ambassador responded to the report by saying that thousands of food baskets had been distributed in Syria, including to Palestinian refugee camps, and said that reports of the government killing its own people were false.
Still, Amos and Ban Ki-moon placed responsibility firmly on the government to help the 9.3 million Syrians in need of humanitarian aid. To date, 2.6 million have fled the three-year civil war in revolt to Assad's regime.
"We all look to governments ... to be the ones that are leading the effort," Amos said.
The U.N. may seek action, but council diplomats told Reuters that it was unlikely that Russia would agree to moves that would lead to sanctions on Assad's regime.
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