United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says the U.N. Security Council must take action to address what he calls "flagrant violations" of international law in Syria, where millions of people cannot get badly needed humanitarian aid.
In a new report to the council, Ban says both the Syrian government and rebel fighters have failed to allow humanitarian access as demanded in a Security Council resolution passed in February.
He says the warring sides must also lift their sieges of populated areas, calling it "shameful" that people are forced to live under those conditions.
The heads of U.N. humanitarian agencies issued a joint statement Wednesday saying both sides are blocking access to aid in Syria, where the humanitarian situation is deteriorating every day. They called for rebels and Syrian forces to ensure that everyone in need can get aid and to stop bombing and shelling civilians.
The Security Council also heard an update Wednesday from the international special coordinator overseeing the removal and destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons. Sigrid Kaag said 88 percent of Syria's declared chemicals have been removed or destroyed.
Nigeria's U.N. ambassador, Joy Ogwu, said council members expressed concern about allegations that chlorine gas was used in attacks in some Syrian towns, and called for an investigation.
Syrian Ambassador Bashar Jaafari denied "categorically" that government forces have used chlorine gas. He said if such an attack took place, it would have been done by terrorist groups.
Syrian officials have long used the term "terrorist" to describe opposition fighters who are trying to oust President Bashar al-Assad. Jaafari said the allegations are meant to undermine Syria's presidential election scheduled for June 3.