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UN aid chief seeks action on Syria aid access

Valerie Amos demands stronger action by the Security Council to get desperately needed food into the country.

Last Modified: 26 Oct 2013 11:34
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The United Nations aid chief has demanded stronger action by the UN Security Council to get desperately needed aid into Syria, where 2.5 million people in need have not received help for almost a year.

Valerie Amos, the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, called upon members of the Council on Friday "to exert influence and take the necessary action to stop this brutality and violence".

"This is a race against time. Three weeks have passed since the adoption of this Council's statement with little change to report," Amos told the Security Council. "As we deliberate, people continue to die unnecessarily."

Violence and excessive red tape have slowed aid delivery in Syria, where more than 100,000 people have been killed in the two-and-a-half-year civil war and about 2.1 million have fled.

After months of talks, the 15-member Security Council approved a non-binding statement October 2, urging increased humanitarian access.

The Security Council adopted the statement on humanitarian access less than a week after overcoming a long diplomatic impasse between Russia and Western countries to pass a resolution to rid Syria of chemical arms.

Senior UN diplomats said that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had at the time dismissed the possibility of a legally binding resolution on aid access.

British UN Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said after the briefing by Amos on Friday that "if the (aid statement) is not being taken seriously, then obviously it behooves us to look at stronger vehicles, including a resolution".

Russia, a close ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and China have vetoed three Security Council resolutions since October 2011 that would have condemned the government and threatened it with sanctions.

Deadly attack

Meanwhile, a car bomb explosion killed at least 104 people and wounded dozens more on Friday near a mosque in the Damascus province town of Suq Wadi Barada, a monitor said.

"At least three of the dead were children," said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman. Other activists said the death toll was 210.

The town is under rebel control, but troops loyal to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad were positioned right outside it, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Car bomb targets mosque in Damascus suburb

State news agency SANA also reported the blast, and blamed "terrorists," the term the Assad regime uses for forces fighting to oust it.

"The car exploded while the terrorists were packing it with explosives near the Osama Bin Zeid mosque. Terrorists and civilians were killed," said the agency. "Two bodies have arrived at the Moassat hospital, including a seven-year-old child's. There are also 30 wounded people, most of them critically."

But anti-regime activists blamed loyalists for the blast. Amateur video shot after the explosion showed clouds of smoke rising above a burning car, while cries of men and women could be heard amid the chaos that followed the blast. The footage also showed people carrying away casualties of the explosion.

A second video showed the bodies of the dead, some of them covered with blankets. Among the bodies shown in the footage was that of a child.

Car bombings have plagued Syria in recent months, killing scores across the country. Syria's 31-month conflict has killed more than 115,000 people, according to the Observatory.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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