UN to ask Syria's OK for aid drops - diplomats

2016-06-03 19:00
A Syrian civil defence volunteer, known as the White Helmets, speaks to the driver of a bulldozer which is being used to remove rubble following a reported air strike in Aleppo.  (Thaer Mohammed, AFP)

A Syrian civil defence volunteer, known as the White Helmets, speaks to the driver of a bulldozer which is being used to remove rubble following a reported air strike in Aleppo. (Thaer Mohammed, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

New York - The United Nations will on Sunday present a formal request to the Syrian government to approve airdrops of humanitarian aid to besieged areas where civilians are at risk of starvation, diplomats said.

UN aid chief Stephen O'Brien told a closed meeting of the Security Council on Friday that consent from the Damascus regime was needed to carry out the airdrops of food and medicine, diplomats at the meeting told AFP.

The 15-member council was discussing UN plans for airdrops to reach areas under siege where trapped civilians face dire shortages in the five-year war.

World powers decided last month that if aid continued to be blocked, the United Nations would begin airdrops on June 1, although such an operation would require Syrian approval and pose high risks.

"What is at stake here is the necessity to put an end to a humanitarian disaster," French Ambassador Francois Delattre told reporters ahead of the meeting.

"The Syrian regime is continuing to systematically starve hundreds of thousands of civilians and use them as weapons of war. These are war crimes," said Delattre, who holds the council presidency this month.

Diplomats said they expected the Syrian regime to take some time to respond to the request and UN officials have said the airdrops are not imminent.

Delattre called on Russia, Syria's ally, to ratchet up pressure on Damascus to allow aid to reach civilians by land, which the United Nations has said is the most effective way to deliver aid.

"The top priority is to get those who have influence over Damascus, starting with Russia, to strongly increase their pressure on the regime," he said.

France, Britain and the United States are calling on the United Nations to forge ahead with plans for the airdrops, even if the operation presents major security challenges.

"There should be airdrops where access is being denied by land," said British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft.

The United Nations said on Thursday that helicopters would have to be used for air bridges to 15 of the 19 besieged areas because they are densely-populated.

According to the United Nations, a total of 592 000 people live under siege in Syria - the majority surrounded by regime forces - and another four million live in hard-to-reach areas.

Peace talks to end Syria's five-year war stalled in April after the opposition walked out over escalating fighting on the ground and lack of humanitarian aid.

Read more on:    un  |  syria  |  aid

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.