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

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    Diplomats Hope to Revive Cradle of Civilization After Defeat of IS

    Diplomats from around globe gather at US State Department, discuss how to rebuild minority communities shattered by Islamic State group

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100% Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100% Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora