UN chief says arbitrary denial of aid a tactic of war in Syria

by Reuters
Thursday, 24 July 2014 16:03 GMT

People unpack humanitarian aid inside a warehouse in Ghouta, eastern Damascus May 24, 2014 REUTERS/Badra Mamet

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By Michelle Nichols

UNITED NATIONS, July 24 (Reuters) - Warring parties in Syria are arbitrarily denying the delivery of humanitarian aid to millions of people in need as a tactic of war, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a report to the United Nations Security Council.

In his fifth monthly report on access to aid in Syria, obtained by Reuters, Ban said an estimated 10.8 million people need help, of which 4.7 million are in hard to reach areas of the war-torn country, including at least 241,000 people in areas besieged by government or opposition forces.

"The parties have continued to obstruct humanitarian assistance to those most in need and to withhold consent for operations in a completely arbitrary manner as a tactic of war," Ban said in the report, dated Wednesday.

"I call upon parties to the conflict to lift the sieges immediately and facilitate access to people in need of humanitarian assistance," he said.

Ban reports monthly to the U.N. Security Council on the implementation of a resolution adopted in February demanding rapid, safe and unhindered aid access in Syria.

The United Nations says that resolution had failed to make a difference and that the humanitarian situation on the ground had worsened.

Earlier this month, the 15-member council unanimously adopted a follow-up resolution authorizing humanitarian access without Syrian government consent into rebel-held areas at four border crossings from Turkey, Iraq and Jordan, even though Damascus has warned it deems such deliveries incursions into its territory.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols, editing by G Crosse)

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