U.N. says aid assessment team to visit besieged Syrian towns
UNITED NATIONS |
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - A joint team of Syrian, U.N. and Organization of Islamic Cooperation staff will begin visiting besieged Syrian towns this weekend to assess the humanitarian situation, U.N. aid chief Valerie Amos said on Thursday.
The mission will be led by the Syrian government and the team would "gather information on the overall humanitarian situation and observe first-hand the conditions in various towns and cities," Amos said in a statement.
"I repeat my calls to the government of Syria to allow humanitarian organizations unhindered access, so they can help people in need, in a neutral and impartial manner," she said.
The team would go to Homs, Hama, Tartous, Latakia, Aleppo, Rural Damascus, Deraa and other towns.
Amos said it was "increasingly vital that humanitarian organizations have unhindered access to identify urgent needs and provide emergency care and basic supplies. There is no time to waste."
Amos went to Syria last week and visited Homs, including the heavily shelled neighborhood of Baba Amr, which she said had been devastated after a month-long siege.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the Syrian government and opposition to cooperate with U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan in a bid to end the violence, saying that the "status quo in Syria is indefensible."
Ban "stands in solidarity with the people of Syria and their legitimate aspirations to dignity, freedom and justice. He calls for all violence to end, and for a resolution of the crisis through peaceful means," a statement from his office said.
(Reporting By Louis Charbonneau and Michelle Nichols; editing by Christopher Wilson)
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