| UNITED NATIONS
UNITED NATIONS Feb 10 Russia and China on
Monday rebuffed the United States, France and Britain and other
states by failing to attend negotiations on a draft U.N.
Security Council resolution to boost aid access in Syria, said
diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Australia, Luxembourg and Jordan on Thursday presented their
draft to the five veto-wielding council powers and were due to
meet with them all on Monday, but Russia's U.N. Ambassador
Vitaly Churkin and China's Ambassador Liu Jieyi did not attend.
Churkin had quickly dismissed the draft resolution on
Friday, telling Reuters that it was "a non-starter, it's very
disappointing, even worse than some texts we saw a couple of
Diplomats said the draft resolution was likely to be
circulated among the remaining states on the 15-member Security
Council early on Tuesday and then negotiations held by the body
on Tuesday afternoon.
"We're still hoping (Russia and China) will engage," said
one Western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Russia, with the support of Beijing, has shielded Syria on
the U.N. Security Council during the country's three-year-long
civil war. The pair have vetoed three resolutions condemning
Syria's government and threatening it with possible sanctions.
The most recent version of the draft aid text, obtained by
Reuters, expresses an intent to impose sanctions on individuals
and entities obstructing humanitarian assistance and if certain
demands in the resolution are not met within 15 days of its
The United Nations says some 9.3 million Syrians - nearly
half the country's population - need help and U.N. aid chief
Valerie Amos has repeatedly expressed frustration that violence
and red tape are slowing the delivery of humanitarian assistance
to a trickle.
Amos will brief the Security Council on Thursday on the
problems she faces getting access to Syria's neediest people.
Diplomats said the draft was unlikely to go to a vote before
Western members of the Security Council have been
considering a resolution on aid for almost a year. After months
of talks, the council eventually adopted a non-binding statement
on Oct. 2 urging more access to aid.
But that statement produced only a little administrative
progress, such as visas for aid workers and clearance for
convoys. No action has been taken on big issues such as the
demilitarization of schools and hospitals as well as access to
besieged and hard-to-reach communities.
The United Nations says that well over 100,000 people have
been killed in the Syrian civil war. The opposition Syrian
Observatory for Human Rights has said that more than 136,000
have been killed since the uprising against President Bashar
al-Assad began in March 2011.
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols, editing by G Crosse)