Top UN Relief Official Granted Permission to Visit Syria

NEW YORK–(ENEWSPF)–5 March 2012.  The United Nations relief chief Valerie Amos announced today that she will visit the Syrian capital, Damascus, on Wednesday to urge all parties to the conflict to allow unhindered access for aid workers to evacuate the wounded and deliver essential humanitarian supplies.

“The Syrian authorities have confirmed that I can visit Syria this week. I will arrive in Damascus on Wednesday 7 March and leave on Friday 9 March,” Ms. Amos, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, said in a statement.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last month asked Ms. Amos, who is also the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, to visit Syria to assess the humanitarian situation there and renew the call for urgent humanitarian access

However, Syrian authorities delayed permission for her trip, prompting the Security Council and Mr. Ban to voice disappointment last week over the delay “despite repeated requests and intense diplomatic contacts aimed at securing Syrian approval.”

Ms. Amos and other top UN officials have repeatedly called on Syrian authorities to stop the violence and to allow humanitarian workers to have access to those in need.

Thousands of people, mostly civilians, have been killed since the uprising – part of the broader Arab Spring movement across North Africa and the Middle East – began almost a year ago.

On Friday, Mr. Ban underlined the need for concerted action to end the crisis, lamenting that the international community has thus far failed in its responsibility to stop the bloodshed in Syria.

“In fact, the actions – indeed, the inaction — of the international community seems to have encouraged the Syrian authorities in their brutal suppression of its citizens,” Mr. Ban said as he reported to the General Assembly on the implementation of its 16 February resolution on Syria.

That resolution strongly condemned the continued “widespread and systematic” human rights violations by the Syrian authorities and demanded that the Government immediately cease all violence and protect its people.