AFP – The UN Security Council on Wednesday agreed on a statement calling on the Syrian government to improve access to civilians trapped in the country’s conflict.
The statement, which includes a call for cross-border humanitarian operations, is the council’s second major united decision on the war in less than a week.
The 15-nation body had been deadlocked since the start of the 30-month-old uprising against President Bashar al-Assad until it passed a resolution last Friday ordering the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons.
In the new statement, drawn up by Australia and Luxembourg and which unlike the resolution is not legally binding, the council says it is “appalled at the unacceptable and escalating level of violence” in Syria, according to a copy obtained by AFP.
“The Security Council urges all parties, in particular the Syrian authorities, to take all appropriate steps to facilitate the efforts of the United Nations, its specialized agencies and all humanitarian actors engaged in humanitarian relief activities, to provide immediate humanitarian assistance to the affected people in Syria,” the statement adds.
It calls on Assad’s government “to take immediate steps to facilitate the expansion of humanitarian relief operations, and lift bureaucratic impediments and other obstacles.”
The statement says there should be “unhindered humanitarian access” across the conflict lines “and, where appropriate, across borders from neighboring countries.”
The Syrian government has opposed aid missions from neighboring countries saying the supplies will go to rebel forces. Some analysts have expressed doubt that rebel groups will let aid go to government areas.
But a diplomat at the Security Council meeting where the statement was adopted said it was “a humanitarian success.”
The United Nations says there are now more than 2.1 million Syrian refugees outside the country and almost six million inside who have fled their homes because of the war which the UN says has left well over 100,000 people dead.
UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos has been pressing the Security Council for several months to act on the growing crisis.
UN agencies have a multi-billion dollar funding shortfall for their Syria relief efforts and UN leader Ban Ki-moon is to hold a new conference to rally financial support in Kuwait in January, diplomats said.
The statement was to be officially released later Wednesday, diplomats said.