Special Envoy holds off calling new Syria talks

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Staffan de Mistura, United Nations Special Envoy for Syria at a press conference in Geneva. Photo: UN Photo / Jean-Marc Ferré

In Syria, the task of delivering aid to blockaded communities remains extremely difficult, but there is hope that the situation will improve with renewed international pressure, the UN said Thursday.

The announcement was made in Geneva by Jan Egeland, the UN humanitarian task force coordinator for the wartorn country.

At Egeland's side was UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura, who said that conditions were not yet suitable for a resumption of peace talks in the Swiss city.

Here's Daniel Johnson:

A total of 18 towns and cities in Syria remain besieged but Jan Egeland said there was "one small glimmer of hope" after aid reached East Harasta for the first time in over three years.

That brings to 13 the number of besieged areas that have now received aid from the UN and its partners since the start of the year.

Last year just two of these locations received humanitarian supplies.

Here's the UN aid coordinator's assessment of the aid situation in Syria:

"That's the end of the good news, really, because May was and is one of the most difficult months we've had this year. We reached more than 40 per cent of the people last month with humanitarian supplies of April. This month of May so far we have maybe reached five per cent."

Jan Egeland warned that other locations including Al-Waer outside Homs were besieged in all but name, before adding that an infant had died there from malnutrition in recent days.

Citing the Russians, Iranians, Americans and Saudis, Egeland also said he believed they would all "enable" aid access by land in coming weeks.

On the issue of the resumption of peace talks in Geneva, UN Syria Envoy Staffan de Mistura said that he was "determined" to call a date soon.

But he said the credibility of the next round of discussions would be in question without a "substantial" improvement in humanitarian access and the cessation of hostilities.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva.

Duration: 1'25"


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