- aid - humanitarian action - Kofi Annan - Syria - unrest
Annan urges Syria to stop delaying humanitarian aid
UN-Arab League mediator Kofi Annan has urged Syria's government to allow the UN unhindered access to the more than one million people left in need of humanitarian aid after 15 months of conflict.
AFP - UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan on Tuesday urged Syria to stop delaying UN access to more than one million Syrians in need of assistance.
The United Nations has been negotiating with President Bashar al-Assad's government since March and the UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos said the process has been "very slow."
Annan "remains extremely concerned about the plight of one million Syrians in need of humanitarian assistance," said UN spokesman Martin Nesirky.
"He strongly urges the government to accept the conditions for a scaling up of humanitarian assistance without further delay."
Annan also stressed "the need for a speedy agreement consistent with the government's commitment to allow unimpeded access and provision of assistance to Syrians in need," the spokesman added.
UN agencies estimated in March that about one million Syrian people needed help. Amos told reporters the figure was now probably much higher. The UN says 15 months of conflict in Syria has left well over 9,000 dead. Rights groups put the figure at over 12,000 people killed.
Humanitarian access is part of Annan's six-point plan and Syria has been strongly criticized by Western governments for not meeting any of its commitments under the plan.
Amos said talks with the Syrian government on humanitarian access were still going on. "It has been a very slow process. The government has now agreed with our assessment of the numbers and what needs to be done. What we now need to negotiate is the how."
According to diplomats, Assad's government has been holding up talks on humanitarian assistance by demanding that the Syrian Red Crescent or an official Syrian body controls the delivery of humanitarian assistance.
The United Nations wants equal control of the deliveries and to monitor who the assistance goes to.
"From the UN perspective, of course, it is important that any aid is delivered impartially. So it needs to go to people who are in opposition held areas as well as government held areas," Amos said.
"All these are issues we continue to discuss and negotiate."
The UN says there are more than 56,000 Syrian refugees registered in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq but the true number is significantly higher as tens of thousands have not registered.
Amos said her department has beefed up its presence in Lebanon and Jordan and estimated that Turkey has spent more than $150 million on camps.