* U.N. holds humanitarian forum on Syria to discuss aid plan
* World body awaits result of visit by aid chief Amos
* Expected to launch three-month appeal for $105 million
* Syria, Russia accuse armed groups of destroying
(adds comments by Ging after talks)
By Stephanie Nebehay
GENEVA, March 8 The United Nations is
readying food stocks for 1.5 million people in Syria as part of
a 90-day emergency plan to help civilians deprived of basic
supplies after nearly a year of conflict.
The world body awaited the results of a three-day visit to
Syria by U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos, who is seeking to
gain access for its aid agencies which have been shut out.
"More needs to be done," John Ging of the U.N. Office for
the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) told a one-day
Syria Humanitarian Forum on Thursday. "There is a huge amount of
The United Nations has drawn up a 90-day aid plan of $105
million likely to translate into a funding appeal to donors,
diplomats and U.N. sources said.
"The U.N. side of the humanitarian community is looking at
the process of additional food stocks pre-positioned to target
1.5 million people," said Ging, director of OCHA's coordination
and response division who chaired the meeting.
Ging, speaking later to reporters, said that aid agencies
and donors were united in wanting to help, but faced challenges.
"All of us know that we should be judged on the result on
the ground. We're working very hard on the humanitarian
community side to deliver a better result for the people of
Syria. That's the simple bottom line."
Ging said that he was pleased that Syria's ambassador to the
U.N. in Geneva, Faysal Khabbaz Hamoui, had taken part in the
talks. Ging is to issue a chair's statement on Friday.
"You have to start somewhere, you are not going to make
progress if you are talking to yourself," Ging told reporters.
"Valerie Amos is in Syria at the moment engaged in a very
important mission there...We're all anxious to see the outcome."
The U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) said it had distributed
some food supplies in Syria through local aid agencies, but had
not reached people in the areas worst hit by the violence.
"Our focus is to prepare support potentially to 1.5 million
of the conflict-affected population initially through food
distribution and also potentially through a voucher programme
when it is feasible," WFP's Lauren Landis said.
The U.N. estimates more than 7,500 civilians have died
during President Bashar al-Assad's crackdown on the uprising.
Syria's ambassador Hamoui, backed by its ally Russia,
accused armed groups of attacking infrastructure, including
schools and medical facilities, and causing massive destruction.
"Rebel groups attack, kill, torture and intimidate the
civilian population. The flow of all kind of terrorists from
some neighbouring countries is always increasing. Most of the
militants are directly or closely affiliated with al Qaeda,"
Mikhail Lebedev, Russia's deputy ambassador to the U.N. in
Geneva, told the talks.
Ging described the situation in Syria as "very fluid" and
said the capacity of Syrian health services to provide trauma
care and medicines must be restored. Water systems damaged
during shelling of residential areas must be repaired.
U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state Kelly T. Clements
urged all sides to allow immediate, safe and unhindered access.
"Safe access to affected areas, in order to identify the
greatest needs and deliver needed assistance is still not
permitted by the Syrian regime," she said in a statement.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the
only international agency to deploy aid workers in Syria, also
took part in the meeting that lasted three hours.
"Humanitarians have to step in," said Claus Sorensen,
director general of the European Union's aid department ECHO.
"The purpose of this meeting is to give an answer to the
immediate suffering ... It is about getting access, access and
access - that is a precondition for actually providing any type
of relief," he said.
Hamoui said: "Syria is not undergoing a humanitarian
crisis". His country was still exporting farm and industrial
products, including livestock.
Kofi Annan, the U.N.-Arab League special envoy on Syria,
said on Thursday he would urge President Assad and his foes to
stop fighting and seek a political solution.
(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay and Tom Miles; Editing by Maria