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In a voice of rare unanimity on the situation in Syria, the 15-member UN Security Council conveyed its “deep disappointment” that Valerie Amos, United Nations under secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, was turned down by the government to enter the country to assess the humanitarian crisis.
The press statement was read by Mark Lyall Grant, the UN ambassador from Britain and the president of the Security Council this month, who noted that the document did not cover the wider political dimensions of the Syrian government’s unabated attacks against civilians in numerous parts of the country.
Instead the statement, he said, strictly covers the humanitarian developments. In particular, it refers to the “growing number of affected civilians, the lack of safe access to adequate medical services and food shortages, particularly in areas affected by fighting and violence such as Homs, Hama, Deraa, Idlib.”
The statement also said that Syrian officials should allow “immediate, full and unimpeded access of humanitarian personnel to all populations in need of assistance, in accordance with international law and guiding principles of humanitarian assistance” and allow evacuation of wounded.
The UN has enlisted Kofi Annan, the previous secretary-general, as joint special envoy with the Arab League to begin negotiating a political solution and stop the violence in Syria. He will travel to the region this weekend, Grant said, to consult the Arab League, and, according to plan, on to Damascus. Annan’s international stature means that his mission will be taken “extremely seriously,” Grant added.
Speaking in his national capacity, Grant said that Britain condemns the “brutalization” of the Syrian regime against Syrians, including the current “full-frontal assault” in Homs against civilians who are trapped behind government blockades.
Syria was also at the forefront at the Human Rights Council in Geneva today, where it passed a resolution condemning “the continued widespread and systematic violations of human rights and fundamental rights by the Syrian authorities.”
The council called on the Syrian government “to immediately put an end to all human rights violations and attacks against civilians, to cease all violence and to allow free and unimpeded access by the UN and humanitarian agencies.”
The resolution was passed with 37 yes votes, 3 against (China, Cuba and Russia) and 3 abstentions (Ecuador, India and Philippines). Angola, Burkina Faso, Kyrgyzstan and Uganda did not vote.