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UN Humanitarian Chief: 250,000 Syrians Unreachable

Top humanitarian official Valerie Amos reports situation in war-torn Syria in 'chilling' closed-door Security Council briefing.
By Ari Yashar
First Publish: 12/4/2013, 12:54 PM

UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos in Syria 2013
UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos in Syria 2013
Reuters

Roughly 250,000 Syrians in the besieged communities of the war-torn country are beyond the reach of humanitarian aid, according to UN humanitarian affairs coordinator Valerie Amos. Her closed-door Security Council briefing was "chilling" in one participant's words, reports Al Jazeera.

In November, Amos told the council that 9.3 million Syrians are in need of humanitarian assistance, a drastic rise from the 6.8 million in June.

In the recent briefing, Amos reported "modest progress" in getting 50 visas for aid workers and opening 3 humanitarian hubs in Syria, "only two of which are helpful to us."

However, in the major issues of protecting civilians and demilitarizing public facilities such as school and hospitals, Amos notes "we have not seen any progress."

Just this week, the UN Human Rights High Commissioner Navi Pillay for the first time accused Syrian President Bashar Assad of authorizing war crimes.

The internecine Syrian violence, now stretching into its third year, has left about 120,000 dead, of them 11,000 children.

Furthermore, the conflict has created 2.2 million refugees, over half of whom are children. Reports show the children in large proportions engage in child labor to support their families instead of going to school.

Geneva II talks aiming to end the war have been set for January 22. However, the gap in positions between opposition forces demanding Assad's ouster and Assad's insistence on staying in power leave doubt as to outcomes of the talks.

In response to the humanitarian crisis in Syria, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon on Tuesday announced Israel would be sending humanitarian aid to the embattled nation. The announcement came just a day after the IDF returned fire on a Syrian army outpost, and a Syrian mortar shell landed outside an Israeli Golan Heights village.