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UN Urges Immediate Humanitarian Access to Syria

Updated: Wednesday, October 2 2013, 11:48 AM EDT

UNITED NATIONS (AP) - The U.N. Security Council called Wednesday for immediate access into Syria to provide desperately needed aid, expressing alarm at the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation.

The presidential statement was a quick follow up to the Security Council's first legally binding resolution since the Syrian conflict began 2 1/2 years ago. The resolution called on Syria to eliminate its chemical weapons.

Britain's U.N. Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant called the presidential statement on humanitarian aid "a very welcome, positive step after years of paralysis in the Security Council."

The statement, aimed at helping the nearly 7 million Syrians affected by the fighting, urges the Syrian government to facilitate "safe and unhindered humanitarian access to people in need through the most effective ways, including across conflict lines and, where appropriate, across borders from neighboring countries."

U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos welcomed the statement addressing "the horrifying humanitarian situation" in Syria.

She called for "unhindered access" to people in areas that aid agencies have been unable to reach for months and a halt to the targeting of civilians.

A presidential statement is a step below a resolution. Some diplomats consider presidential statements legally binding but others do not.

"There is an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe going on in Syria," Lyall Grant said.

Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

UN Urges Immediate Humanitarian Access to Syria


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The Syrian civil war, (also known as the Syrian uprising or Syrian crisis) is an ongoing armed conflict in Syria between forces loyal to the Ba'ath government and those seeking to oust it. A part of the larger Middle Eastern protest movement known as the Arab Spring, the conflict began March 15th, 2011 with local demonstrations that grew in scope to become nationwide by April 2011.

Protesters demanded the resignation of President Bashar al-Assad, whose family has held the presidency in Syria since 1971, as well as the end of Ba'ath Party rule, which began in 1963.

The Syrian Army was deployed in April of 2011 to stop the uprising, and soldiers fired on demonstrators across the country. After months of cities and neighborhoods being cut-off by the Army the protests evolved into an armed rebellion.

The Arab League, United States, European Union, and other countries condemned the use of violence against the protesters. The Arab League suspended Syria's membership as a result of the government's response to the crisis, but granted the Syrian National Coalition, a coalition of Syrian political opposition groups, Syria's seat on 6 March 2013.

According to the UN, about 4 million Syrians have been displaced within the country and 2 million have fled to other countries.

Syrian government supporters include Russia and Iran, while Qatar and Saudi Arabia are providing material and weapons to the rebels.


 
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