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'Government-led' aid mission heading to Syria, says UN
The United Nations said Thursday that it will be dispatching a "government-led", supervised humanitarian mission to Syria this weekend but repeated demands for "unhindered access" to Syrian cities to provide urgent care and supplies.
AFP - The United Nations said Thursday it would send experts on a Syrian "government-led" humanitarian mission this weekend but again demanded free access to protest cities.
UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos said UN and Organization of Islamic Cooperation staff would join the assessment mission to Daraa, Homs, Hama, Tartus, Lattakia, Aleppo, Dayr Az Zor and rural zones around Damascus.
But Amos stressed that "it is increasingly vital that humanitarian organizations have unhindered access to identify urgent needs and provide emergency care and basic supplies. There is no time to waste.
"I repeat my calls to the government of Syria to allow humanitarian organizations unhindered access, so that they can help people in need, in a neutral and impartial manner," Amos said in a statement.
Amos met officials in President Bashar al-Assad's government in Damascus last week and she said later that the government had agreed to a joint assessment mission in the nation that has been plagued by deadly unrest for more than a year.
"Last week the government of Syria said that they needed more time to consider my proposals," the UN under secretary general for humanitarian affairs said.
"The Syrian authorities have now informed me that a government-led mission will visit the governorates of Homs, Hama, Tartus, Lattakia, Aleppo, Dayr Az Zor, rural Damascus and Daraa, starting this weekend."
She said the UN staff and Organization of Islamic Cooperation "will accompany the mission and take the opportunity to gather information on the overall humanitarian situation and observe first-hand the conditions in various towns and cities."
Syria has entered the second year of a revolt against Assad's regime, and the violence including a brutal crackdown on protesters has left more than 9,000 people dead, most of them civilians, human rights monitors said Thursday.