Middle East

Lack of access in Syria hinders humanitarian aid: EU

EU commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response Kristalina Georgieva gives a press conference on on the latest developments in the European Commission's humanitarian assistance to Syria on September 7, 2012 at the EU Headquarters in Brussels. (AFP PHOTO GEORGES GOBET)

UNITED NATIONS: Escalating violence in Syria and limited access to civilians in need hinder the distribution of humanitarian aid in the country, the European Union's crisis chief said on Wednesday.

An 18-month uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad's rule has killed approximately 27,000 people, according to Syrian activists. The revolt has escalated into an armed insurgency with sectarian overtones that could drag in regional powers.

The European Union estimates 2.5 million Syrians need humanitarian assistance, compared to 1 million in March. They include 1.2 million people forced from their homes.

"To do more, we need more access in Syria," EU humanitarian affairs commissioner Kristalina Georgieva said after talks on the issue with heads of U.N. and other international aid agencies at the U.N. General Assembly in New York.

"This is an urban war, which makes it difficult for aid to be distributed."

Georgieva said there was an urgent need for more high-level discussions to allow aid workers to get to those in need.

"With no end to the fighting in sight, with serious food and medicine shortages, and with the winter approaching, it was high time to discuss at the highest possible level what the needs are and how we can bring help to people who need it," she said.

The European Union provided $287 million for humanitarian efforts in Syria, Georgieva said, but only 38 percent of a U.N. funding appeal has been met.

"Although the EU has made very generous donations, we still need more donations to match the escalation of needs," she said.

Georgieva reiterated remarks she made last month that all sides in the conflict have an obligation under international law to allow humanitarian aid workers access to combat zones to evacuate civilians and the wounded.





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