UNHCR talks in Syria on aid crisis

2012-08-14 21:48
UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Co-ordinator, Valerie Amos, during a press conference in Damascus, Syria. (Bassem Tellawi, AP)

UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Co-ordinator, Valerie Amos, during a press conference in Damascus, Syria. (Bassem Tellawi, AP)

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Damascus - UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos held talks in Syria on Tuesday on ways to step up relief efforts as the country faces an increasingly precarious humanitarian situation.

She met government officials in Damascus and is due to meet aid groups including the local Red Crescent as well as families affected by the conflict on a trip that will also take her to neighbouring Lebanon, a UN spokesperson said.

Among those she met were Syria's new Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi, who replaced Riad Hijab following his defection last week.

The visit "aims to draw attention to the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Syria and the impact of the conflict on people either remaining in Syria and who have fled to other countries, including Lebanon," the UN office for the co-ordination of humanitarian affairs (OCHA) said ahead of her arrival.

While in Syria, Amos was expected to discuss ways of urgently scaling-up relief efforts and reducing the suffering of civilians caught up in the fighting.

Two million people are now estimated to have been affected by the Syria conflict and more than one million are internally displaced as fighting continues in Damascus, Aleppo and other cities, OCHA said.

The UN Refugee Agency said on Tuesday that almost 157 600 Syrians had also fled the violence and crossed into Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq, although many more have left but not registered officially.

At least 23 000 people have been killed across Syria since the anti-regime revolt broke out in March 2011, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

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