Let UN humanitarian chief in, Syria asked

2012-03-01 20:56

New York - In its first statement on Syria in seven months, the UN Security Council on Thursday deplored the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation there and called on the government to grant UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos "immediate and unhindered access".

The press statement, obtained by The Associated Press, is significant because it requires agreement of all 15 council members, including Russia and China, who have vetoed two resolutions condemning the Syrian government's bloody crackdown and calling for President Bashar Assad to step down.

While a press statement is not legally binding, it does reflect the growing concern of the council about the impact of the year-old conflict on Syria's civilian population.

The UN has estimated that more than 7 500 people have been killed since the anti-Assad struggle started in March 2011, when protesters inspired by successful Arab Spring uprisings against dictators in Tunisia and Egypt took to the streets in Syria.

Activists put the total death toll at more than 8 000 - most of them civilians.

The security council cited "the growing number of affected civilians, the lack of safe access to adequate medical services, and food shortages, particularly in areas affected by fighting and violence such as Homs, Hama, Deraa, Idlib".

It called on Syrian authorities "to allow immediate, full and unimpeded access of humanitarian personnel to all populations in need of assistance, in accordance with international law and guiding principles of humanitarian assistance".

The council expressed "deep disappointment" that Amos "was not granted authorisation to visit Syria by the Syrian government in a timely manner, despite repeated requests and intense diplomatic contacts aimed at securing Syrian approval".

Amos said in a statement on Wednesday that Syria had not approved her repeated requests to visit the country.

UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky said the Syrians have delayed a decision several times. He said Amos has been "extremely flexible ... and she's still ready to go at a moment's notice".

Council diplomats said Russia, Syria's closest ally, had urged Assad's government to approve a visit by Amos.

The last statement approved by the security council was a stronger presidential statement on August 3. Presidential statements become part of the council's record but, unlike resolutions, are not legally binding.

After months of deadlock, the council finally responded to the escalating violence in Syria, condemning Assad's forces for attacking civilians and committing human rights violations.

It called on Syrian authorities to immediately end all violence and launch an inclusive political process that will allow the Syrian people to fully exercise "fundamental freedoms ... including that of expression and peaceful assembly".

  • Sharon - 2012-03-01 21:52

    the un are a useless organisation and wait untill thousands of people die before they even try to get involved,disband them and start a new organisation with teeth then get rid of the despots that are destroying their countries and murdering people

      Fred - 2012-03-02 03:59

      The UN is as strong as its members want it to be. Unfortunately two members of the Security Council (Russia and China) are more interested in themselves than human evolution. They're new to international affairs and have the worst human rights records of any country. This alone is stymying the UN in Syria.

  • William - 2012-03-02 08:12

    My boet works for them and while it may appear that nothing is being done, diplomacy takes time, ALLOT of talking, negotiations, paperwork, paperwork, paperwork, etc etc. It is not that easy. You can't just send in the cavalry with guns blazing. Yes, people are dying, and yes something should be done, but behind closed doors more is happening than you think.

  • Fidel - 2012-03-02 09:01

    The UNHC, just like its mother body is a discredited institution not interested in people Human's Rights as it has been impotent to make any pronnounciations when hell fire missiles have rained on Serbians, Iraqis and Afghans.

      Fred - 2012-03-02 09:12

      Fidel, what did you mean when you said Israel is a refuge for Jews and one big bulls-eye? And you want readers to take your thoughts about the UNHC seriously, when you have this violent, racist intent?

      Fidel - 2012-03-02 09:28

      I'm not a light switch for you and I'm not trying to convert you either or anyone for that matter, so i don't care whether you take my views seriously or not.

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