News / Middle East

    UN, Humanitarian Group Seek to Step Up Syria Aid

    FILE - U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos.
    FILE - U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos.
    Margaret Besheer
    The United Nations' humanitarian chief said Wednesday that a Security Council resolution aimed at expanding the reach of humanitarian aid in Syria is not working, while violence continues to rise in the country.  Separately, the head of the mission to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons said they will not meet the June 30 deadline for the elimination of all chemical agents.  

    U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos told reporters that violations of the most basic principles of international humanitarian and human rights law continue in Syria.  

    "Since the secretary-general's last report we have seen a marked increase in the indiscriminate use of barrel bombs by the government, mortar attacks by opposition groups, poisonous gases allegedly used against civilians, and the collective punishment of civilians," said Amos.

    She said the lack of progress on the political front has increased the pressure and expectations on humanitarian actors, who are continuing to look for ways to maximize the delivery of aid.

    "To reach every Syrian in need we need to use all delivery routes. That means cross-line and cross-border, and we need donors to fund U.N. agencies and our NGO partners," she said.

    Amos said nearly a quarter of a million people are in besieged areas - the majority of which are controlled by the government - and aid workers have only been able to reach 7 percent of them.  She said sieges are inhumane and must stop.

    U.N. Security Council members are negotiating a new draft resolution on aid deliveries to Syria.  Diplomats with knowledge of the discussions say the draft would include specific references to cross-border access.  They also want a new resolution to be enforceable.  Getting Russia and China to agree to such a firm stance could take some time and concessions, but diplomats say they hope they can avoid another double veto.

    Meanwhile, the head of an international mission to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons, Sigrid Kaag, briefed the council Wednesday.

    She told reporters that just over 7 percent of Syria's declared chemical weapons materials still have to be removed from the country.  The 100 metric tons of chemicals are located at one site, which the Syrian authorities say they cannot access due to the security situation in the area.

    Kaag said this delay means the mission will miss the June 30 deadline for the complete elimination of all Syria's chemical weapons.

    "The deadline will not be met. What is important, however, is that all the materials are out of harm's way and the destruction can start as soon as possible aboard the U.S. ship, as considerable time has lapsed and considerable costs and time and investments have been made to get the job done," she said.

    The joint mission began its work nine months ago after Syria's government was accused of using chemical weapons in an attack that killed hundreds of people in a Damascus suburb.

    You May Like

    Post-White House, Obamas to Rent Washington Mansion

    Nine-bedroom home is 3 kilometers from Oval Office, near capital's Embassy Row; rent estimated at around $22,000 a month

    Red Planet? Not so much!

    New research suggest that Mars is in a warm period between cyclical ice ages, and that during Ice Age Maximum over 500,000 years ago, the red planet was decidedly ice, and much whiter to the naked eye.

    Taj Mahal Battles New Threat from Insects

    Swarms of insects are proliferating in the heavily contaminated waters of the Yamuna River, which flows behind the 17th century monument

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora