Access to besieged Syrian towns remains 'greatest obstacle': UN relief chief

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A young boy sits in front of a destroyed building in Homs, Syria. Photo: WFP/Abeer Etefa

The lack of safe, unimpeded and sustained access remains the greatest obstacle to reaching Syrian people in besieged and hard-to-reach-areas.

That's what the top UN humanitarian chief, Stephen O'Brien, said during his briefing to the Security Council on Wednesday.

Some 13.5 million people in Syria are in dire need of protection and humanitarian assistance, the UN says.

Jocelyne Sambira reports.

The UN and its implementing partners reach millions of Syrians by deploying aid convoys from Turkey each month, the UN relief chief, Stephen O’Brien, said in his briefing to the Security Council on Wednesday.

These inter-agency cross-border convoys often have to deal with administrative, security or operational constraints.

Last year, 67 of the 99 convoys had a significant number of medical items removed.

The UN and its partners are capable of delivering aid to at least 300,000 people in besieged areas every week, in addition to their regular programming, Mr O'Brien said.

"The lack of safe, unimpeded and sustained access remains, however, the greatest obstacle to reaching people in need in besieged and hard-to-reach areas. The cumulative reach of humanitarian actors to besieged and hard-to-reach areas through interagency convoys and airdrops increased from 620,000 in 2015 to more than 3.3 million in 2016. Yet, despite this considerable improvement, humanitarian actors are all too seldom able to deliver life-saving assistance and protection services in a timely, effective and strictly needs-based on a sustained basis."

Insecurity has also forced the UN to abort convoys.

On 19 February, a loaded convoy tried to reach the besieged neighbourhood of Al Waer in Homs town but was forced to turn around when a person was shot and injured by a sniper.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Duration: 1’24”





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