* One in three people deemed in need of help in Syria
* U.N. faces bureaucratic hurdles to deliver aid
* But more convoys crossing front lines, it says
By Stephanie Nebehay
GENEVA, May 7 Bureaucratic hurdles still hamper
delivery of aid in Syria where nearly one in three people need
help, half of them children, the United Nations said on Tuesday.
Aid requirements have risen dramatically in the past year as
the civil war has escalated, with some 6.8 million deemed in
need now compared with 1 million in March 2012, the U.N. Office
for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said.
Despite the lack of security, U.N. aid convoys are reaching
people in hard-to-access areas such as Homs, but still face
lengthy clearance procedures, it said.
"There has not been much movement on the bureaucratic
obstacles, there is still a need for authorisations at several
levels for each convoy, something we continue to work on with
the Syrian government," OCHA spokesman Jens Laerke told a news
briefing in Geneva.
He later told Reuters: "We need to give 72 hours advance
notice for convoys. If there are smaller changes we have to
restart the whole process. It's very, very slow."
The last convoy to cross the frontlines dividing Syrian
government forces and rebels arrived in Ter Mallah and Al Ghan
in Homs province on April 25, bringing food and other supplies
for 24,000, the OCHA update said.
In all, 10 U.N.-led convoys delivered goods for 764,000
people in hot spots between January and April, it said. Five
went to opposition-controlled areas and five to contested zones.
Rebels, mostly from the Sunni Muslim majority, hold chunks
of southern, eastern and northern Syria, including about half of
Aleppo, the country's biggest city.
But the government of President Bashar al-Assad still
refuses to allow U.N. convoys to deliver aid to rebel-held areas
by crossing from neighbouring countries such as Turkey.
Food rations from the U.N. World Food Programme reached 2.25
million people throughout Syria in April, short of its target of
2.5 million due to "access constraints" that led to the
suspension of WFP operations for one week, OCHA said.
Syrians are on the move within the country on a massive
scale, many uprooted multiple times to flee fighting, it said.
The estimated 4.25 million internally displaced include 1.25
million around Aleppo and more than 700,000 in Rural Damascus.
The United Nations estimated in mid-February that 70,000
people had been killed in the conflict that began in March 2011.
OCHA, referring to reports of mass killings in Mediterranean
coastal areas of Baida and Banias last week, said that a first
wave of civilians fled Banias for Tartous City on Saturday, but
that some had been unable to cross government checkpoints.
Thousands more were expected to follow amid fears of further
violence, it said.
More than 1.4 million Syrian refugees have registered or
await processing in four neighbouring countries - Iraq, Jordan,
Lebanon and Turkey - as well as North Africa led by Egypt.
(Editing by Alison Williams)