December 8, 2013
UN aid chief demands Security Council action on Syria aid access
UN aid chief Valerie Amos demanded stronger action by the UN Security Council to get desperately needed aid into Syria, where 2.5 million people in need have not received help for almost a year.
Violence and excessive red tape have slowed aid delivery to a trickle in Syria. More than 100,000 people have been killed in the 2 1/2-year civil war and some 2.1 million have fled. After months of talks, the 15-member Security Council approved a non-binding statement Oct. 2 urging increased humanitarian access.
"This is a race against time. Three weeks have passed since the adoption of this council's statement with little change to report," Amos told the Security Council. "As we deliberate, people continue to die unnecessarily."
"I call upon all members of the council to exert influence and take the necessary action to stop this brutality and violence," she said. "Without real and sustained pressure from this council on the government of Syria and opposition groups on the ground, it will be impossible to make progress."
The Security Council adopted the statement on humanitarian access less than a week after overcoming a long diplomatic impasse between Russia and Western countries to pass a resolution to rid Syria of chemical arms. Senior U.N. diplomats said that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had at the time dismissed the possibility of a legally binding resolution on aid access.
British U.N. Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said after the briefing by Amos on Friday, "If the (aid statement) is not being taken seriously then obviously it behooves us to look at stronger vehicles, including a resolution."
Russia, a close ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and China have vetoed three Security Council resolutions since October 2011 that would have condemned the government and threatened it with sanctions.