Syria ignores '75%' of requests to deliver aid: UN

2016-01-27 20:41
Aid workers stand near a convoy of vehicles loaded with food and other supplies for Madaya. (AP)

Aid workers stand near a convoy of vehicles loaded with food and other supplies for Madaya. (AP)

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New York - Almost 75% of UN requests for aid deliveries to Syria have gone unanswered by the Damascus government, the UN aid chief said on Wednesday, branding such inaction as "simply unacceptable".

With a new round of peace talks days away, the United Nations is pushing for an end to Syrian sieges that are leaving civilians on the brink of starvation in the five-year war.

UN aid chief Stephen O'Brien told the UN Security Council that access to hard-to-reach areas was "simply not happening" and that the Syrian government had yet to give approval to most planned relief convoys.

"Our ability to access hard-to-reach and besieged locations remains severely hampered by the pitiful approval rate for inter-agency convoys by the Syrian authorities," said O'Brien.

Of the 113 requests for aid deliveries made last year, only 10% reached civilians.

"Almost 75% of requests went unanswered by the government of Syria," said O'Brien, the UN under-secretary general for humanitarian affairs.

"Such inaction is simply unacceptable for a member-state of the United Nations and a signatory of the United Nations charter," he said.

This month, the United Nations asked Damascus to give the green light to relief convoys to 46 besieged and hard-to-reach areas, but none of them have been fully approved.

International alarm over the dire humanitarian crisis in besieged towns has been growing after aid workers were able to reach Madaya this month and reported that residents were surviving on soup made from boiled grass.

Images of Madaya's emaciated children sparked calls for an end to the sieges where about 486 700 people are living, according to UN estimates.

World Food Programme director Ertharin Cousin told the council that "it is just a matter of time before the brutal images we have witnesses these past few weeks hit our screens again".

"The reality is, the situation today is even more severe," she said.

More than 260 000 people have died in Syria's war, which O'Brien described as "one of the most savage and brutal conflicts of the 21st century".

Nearly 4.6 million Syrians have fled the country, 6.5 million more are displaced within Syria and 13.5 million people are in need of food aid.

Read more on:    un  |  syria  |  aid

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