News / Middle East

UN Demands Access to Syria's Needy

FILE - U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos.
FILE - U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos.
Margaret Besheer
The U.N. humanitarian chief urged the Security Council Thursday to take immediate action to help Syrians suffering from a lack of critically needed aid in besieged communities.

In October, the 15-nation Council answered repeated calls from Valerie Amos for international support with a statement demanding unimpeded access for aid workers. But after four months of obstacles, the U.N. humanitarian chief said the situation is significantly worse, not better.

“There is no amount of words that can adequately describe the horrific reality facing civilians in Syria today," said Amos.

She noted that while a brief pause in hostilities negotiated between the two sides in the Old City of Homs has helped to evacuate 1,400 civilians since Friday, there are still a quarter of a million more in other besieged communities and 3 million in hard to reach areas who are without assistance.

“I have asked the Security Council members to do everything they can to use their influence over the parties of this appalling conflict to ensure they abide by pauses and cease-fires, give humanitarian actors sustained and regular access, commit in writing to upholding international humanitarian law, allow systematic cross-line access, and prevent our teams from being shot at while delivering aid to people in need," said Amos.

Amos noted that 15 aid workers have been killed in Syria since October.
The Security Council is negotiating the text of a resolution about the humanitarian situation. An initial draft put forward by Council members Luxembourg, Australia and Jordan - with support from permanent members Britain, France and the United States - was dismissed by the Russians as a political move by supporters of the Syrian opposition.

But on Thursday, Ambassador Vitaly Churkin circulated a Russian-drafted text to Council members. He told reporters that the two drafts are not that far apart.
“For instance, we added some strong language on terrorism. And I think we have a good chance that our colleagues will accept that strong language on terrorism already in the text of this resolution. There are some things which they believe they need in the resolution; we are discussing it," said Churkin.

The Syrian government has sought to make peace talks going on in Geneva focus on terrorism and not the transition of power.

While the U.S. supports a Council resolution, Ambassador Samantha Power said Washington would prefer no resolution to a weak one.

“We are looking for a text that is going to make a meaningful difference on the ground," said Power.

She said that would include full Council support for a strongly worded resolution that included what she called “levers” and “pressure” to get aid in, particularly across borders, to improve the situation on the ground.

You May Like

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid