OIC offers Syria violence victims $70 mn aid

The United Nations estimates more than 9,000 civilians have been killed in Bashar al-Assad`s crackdown on protests against him.

Jeddah: The world`s largest Islamic body said on Saturday it was preparing humanitarian aid worth up to USD 70 million to help some one million people affected by violence during the year-long Syrian uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), whose 57 members include conflict-stricken Syria, said last month it had received permission from Damascus to send such aid to Syria and would send a team to assess the population`s needs.

A mission including members of the OIC and the United Nations, along with a Syrian government team, visited several provinces including Homs, Idlib, Deir al-Zor and Deraa, parts of which have seen some of the fiercest fighting, and issued a report based on their findings.

"The report showed that there is an urgent humanitarian situation with around one million people affected and that the urgent humanitarian program (will) cost, according to the OIC report, USD 70 million. Currently preparations are being made with regard to the program," OIC secretary general Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu told a news conference in Jeddah.

The aid will include food, medical supplies and financial support. Another assessment mission will look at the needs of countries hosting refugees, he added.

The United Nations estimates more than 9,000 civilians have been killed in Assad`s crackdown on protests against him.

Last month the government requested more time to assess a demand by UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos for "unhindered access" for aid, Amos said after a visit to Syria.

The OIC aims to safeguard the interests of the Muslim world and has collected aid in the past to help its member states. Last year, the group`s member states pledged USD 350 million in aid to fight famine in Somalia.

Bureau Report

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