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Relief efforts in Syria hampered by lack of access – senior UN humanitarian official

India Blooms News Service | | 31 Oct 2014, 10:14 am
New York, Oct 31 (IBNS) Escalating fighting, insecurity and a lack of access to deliver critical assistance continue to hamper United Nations efforts to respond to the worsening humanitarian situation in Syria, a top UN relief official said on Thursday.

Briefing the Security Council on the latest situation in Syria, Kyung-wha Kang, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, warned that conditions in the conflict-riven country were worsening, while the UN and partners struggled on the ground to deliver assistance in a timely manner.

“Food, medicines, and other assistance is just a short distance away from those who desperately require it,” she said, speaking on behalf of Valerie Amos, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs.

“And if the parties grant access, we can deliver. We can save lives. But our requests have so far gone unanswered,” she added.

During her address to the Council,  Kang detailed continuing obstacles on the part of Syria’s Government that were delaying or denying the delivering of aid. Despite such challenges, she continued, the UN and partners worked under “extremely difficult circumstances” to deliver food aid to more than 3.9 million people. In addition, medicines and supplies for 1.6 million treatments had been dispatched, and hundreds of thousands of people had received relief items and other support, he said.

She lamented, however, that the UN was only allowed limited access to Yarmouk camp, despite frequent requests. Some 8,500 people received food support, along with 1,100 people who obtained medical treatments and 2,100 who received non-food ite Those figures were just a fraction of the needs in Yarmouk,  Kang noted.

In addition, she reiterated that UN requests to reach besieged areas in Rural Damascus, including Duma, Zamalka and Erbin, had gone unanswered by the Government of Syria. Assistance was also ready for the besieged communities of Nubul and Zahra in Aleppo, but the opposition groups had not provided access to reach some 45,000 people in need,  Kang said. In total, some 241,000 people remain besieged in the country, mostly by government forces.

“The collective punishment inflicted upon civilians is appalling. And so too is the callous disregard by the parties to the conflict for the people of Syria – for their safety and dignity – and for the country’s future,” she said.

Also compromising UN operations was a lack of funding, with just 39 per cent of the required $2.3 billion having been received, the Assistant Secretary-General said, as she called on the international community to redouble its efforts.

“The parties must comply with their international legal obligations to protect people. They must allow us the access required to help those in need,” she concluded.

The conflict in Syria, which began in March 2011, has led to well over 150,000 deaths, and more than 680,000 people have been injured. It has also spawned a refugee crisis in which some 2.5 million people are being sheltered in neighbouring countries. At least 10.8 million people are in need of assistance inside Syria, including at least 6.5 million who are internally displaced.

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Erdogan's Turkey turns Hagia Sophia into a mosque again; UNESCO regrets #HagiaSophia, #Turkey, #Istanbul, #HagiaSophiaMosqueAgain Istanbul/IBNS: Hagia Sophia, Turkey's iconic monument, a UNESCO World Heritage and one of the central attractions of its capital Istanbul, is no longer a museum. It has been turned back as a mosque though some 1500 years ago it was built as an Orthodox Christian cathedral. Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque during the Ottoman time in 1453 while under Ataturk it was turned into a museum in 1935. The decision comes amid a growing rise of the Islamists in Turkey who had been demanding that it be restored as a mosque though Opposition leaders with secular credentials had been against the move. A top court in Turkey ruled that turning it into a museum in 1935 by modern Turkey's secular architect Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was illegal, paving the way for present Turkey president Recep Tayyip Erdogan to declare it as a mosque again and to open it for Muslim prayers. Erdogan made the announcement an hour after the court ruled the conversion to museum in 1935 as illegal and scrapped its status. "May it be beneficial," posted Erdogan on Twitter, sharing an official document on the change with his signature. UNESCO regrets In an immediate reaction, UNESCO said it "deeply regrets" the decision. UNESCO said it was "regrettable that the Turkish decision was not the subject of dialog nor notification beforehand". "UNESCO calls on the Turkish authorities to open a dialog without delay in order to avoid a step back from the universal value of this exceptional heritage whose preservation will be reviewed by the World Heritage Committee in its next session," the United Nation's cultural body said in a statement. Istanbul icon of beauty and wonderment According to Turkey's official tourism website, Hagia Sophia is a remarkable achievement in the history of architecture. and a living proof of mankind's revolt against the laws of physics and it calls it a monument whose importance transcends borders. It is one of UNESCO's World Cultural Heritage sites attracting millions of visitors across the world with its majestic grandeur

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Erdogan's Turkey turns Hagia Sophia into a mosque again 11 Jul 2020, 01:37 pm