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UN to increase contacts with Syrian opposition

18 december 2012, 10:12
0
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem (R) speaking with UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos. ©AFP
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem (R) speaking with UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos. ©AFP
The UN humanitarian chief said Monday she has asked the Syrian government for 10 more aid groups to work in the country and will increase contacts with the opposition to help those in need, AFPreports.

Valerie Amos made her demands during a visit to Damascus on Saturday amid a growing humanitarian crisis in the country that has seen more than 43,000 people killed during a 21-month uprising against President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

More than half a million Syrians have fled their homes to neighboring countries, according to UN estimates.

Amos said she told the Syrian government that in order to assist the needy, UN workers would have to move across the regime's lines and into disputed territory or areas under rebel control.

"The key thing Saturday was informing the government that if we are truly to make use of the access that the government says we can have, it means that we have to cross lines, we have to move from government-controlled areas to disputed areas to opposition-controlled areas," she told reporters.

"I also informed the government that we will be making greater contacts with the opposition inside of Syria itself."

The Assad government accepted the move, according to Amos.

Amos said she asked the regime to allow the United Nations to import fuel in order to move around the country more easily, a request she deemed "extremely urgent." Damascus promised to respond by Tuesday.

The additional humanitarian organizations were needed for the United Nations to step up its activities "significantly," she added.

During her brief visit, Amos met with Foreign Minister Walid Muallem and other officials. She said she heard shelling all day long in Damascus, which highlights that "the security situation is volatile."

The UN suspended operations in Syria early this month and began withdrawing non-essential staff due to deteriorating security conditions.

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