UN aid chief urges action on Syria
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Last Updated: Friday, February 14, 2014, 09:44
  
Geneva: UN aid chief Valerie Amos urged the United Nations Security Council on Thursday to act to increase humanitarian access in Syria as the United States, France and Britain tried to find common ground with Russia and China on a draft resolution on the situation.

"We need action and implementation on the ground, so if a resolution is going to enable that it would be helpful. But a resolution that does not actually lead to a change on the ground ... takes us no further," Amos told reporters.

The United States, France, Britain, Russia and China, the council's five veto-wielding powers, began negotiations on Thursday with Australia, Luxembourg and Jordan.

The United Nations has said that some 9.3 million Syrians, or nearly half the country's population, need help. Amos has repeatedly expressed frustration that violence and red tape have slowed humanitarian aid deliveries to a trickle.

Last week, Australia, Luxembourg and Jordan circulated among the 15-member Security Council a draft resolution aimed at improving aid access in Syria, which Russia quickly dismissed as a "non-starter" because it contained "one-sided accusations" against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, its ally.

On Thursday Russia reversed course and proposed text that it hopes to merge with the Western and Arab-backed draft.

"The first exchanges we have had show that we can come to a text," Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters after the Amos briefing. "There are some things which they believe they need to have in the resolution we're discussing."

The Western and Arab-backed draft resolution expresses an intent to impose sanctions on individuals and entities obstructing aid and if certain demands in the resolution are not met within 15 days of its adoption.

Russia, supported by China, has shielded Syria on the UN Security Council during the country's three-year-long civil war. They have vetoed three resolutions condemning Syria's government and threatening it with possible sanctions.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power said a resolution needed to make a real difference.

"Given the gravity of the situation on the ground, better no resolution than a bad resolution," Power told reporters. "We're looking for a text that is going to make a meaningful difference on the ground."

Reuters

First Published: Friday, February 14, 2014, 09:44


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