Syria: Fate of displaced not a UN issue

2012-08-14 21:48
Wael al-Halqi. (AFP)

Wael al-Halqi. (AFP)

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Damascus - Syria said on Tuesday that international sanctions had hurt only the innocent and that the fate of more than a million people displaced by the conflict was "not a UN issue", in an apparent snub to the visiting UN humanitarian chief.

Valerie Amos held talks with a number of Syrian officials, including new Prime Minister Wael Halqi, on a mission to discuss how to step up relief efforts as the country faces an increasingly precarious humanitarian crisis.

Arab and Western sanctions on the regime "have only affected innocent Syrians", Halqi said, according to the state news agency SANA.

Halqi said he had faith in "Syria's capacity to resist, to overcome the crisis and to bring about reconciliation, security and stability across the country".

State minister for national reconcilation Ali Haidar said his office's priority was to "stop the violence", and that the return of displaced Syrians to their homes was "a mission of the Syrian government, not of the UN or international institutions", according to state news agency SANA.

Two million people are now estimated to have been affected by the 17-month conflict and more than one million are internally displaced as fighting continues in Damascus, Aleppo and other cities, according to Amos's office.

"It is impossible to address a humanitarian situation in any region without taking into account the security situation there and the violence that surrounds it," said Haidar.

The office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said on Tuesday that almost 157 600 Syrians had fled the violence and crossed into Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq, although many more have left, but not registered officially.

Amos also met the head of the UN observer mission General Babacar Gaye and is due to hold talks with the president of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent Society on Wednesday before heading to neighbouring Lebanon.

Read more on:    un  |  syria  |  syria conflict  |  uprisings
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