Aid to besieged Syrian towns must be repeated, UN says

UNITED NATIONS — The UN humanitarian chief called for Monday's delivery of aid to three besieged towns in Syria to be the first of many and welcomed a Syrian statement that such deliveries should be repeated and sustained.

See Full Article

Stephen O'Brien told reporters after briefing the UN Security Council behind closed doors that the arrival of convoys to help civilians in the three towns cut off for months by the war in Syria must not be "either one-off or exceptional."

They must become the model for regular aid deliveries to civilians caught in conflict, which is a requirement under international law, he insisted.

The UN says 4.5 million Syrians are living in besieged or hard-to-reach areas and desperately need humanitarian aid, with civilians prevented from leaving and aid workers blocked from bringing in food, medicine, fuel and other supplies.

Reports of starvation and images of emaciated children have raised global concerns and underscored the urgency for new peace talks that the UN is hoping to host in Geneva on Jan. 25.

Aid convoys with food and other supplies reached three besieged villages on Monday — Madaya, near Damascus, where O'Brien said about 400 people need immediate life-saving treatment for medical conditions, malnourishment and starvation, and the Shiite villages of Foua and Kfarya in northern Syria.

Syria's UN Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari told reporters that the government reiterated its commitment to cooperate fully with the UN and the Red Cross to deliver humanitarian assistance to all civilians "without any discrimination," including those in besieged and hard-to-reach areas.

He called reports of starvation in Madaya fabrications and lies and insisted that "the Syrian government is not and will not exert any policy of starvation against its own people." At the same time, however, he said economic sanctions against Syria and the influx of "terrorists from all over the world" are causing starvation and economic and humanitarian problems in the country.

Ja'afari accused Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey of raising the humanitarian issue and "defaming" and "demonizing" the Syrian government in order to torpedo the Geneva talks because "they are not in favor of a political settlement."

France's UN Ambassador Francois Delattre warned after Monday's meeting that "there will be no credible political process without progress on the humanitarian front."

"It's not progress on the political front or progress on the humanitarian front. It's both or nothing," he said.

Delatte said France is calling for the immediate lifting of blockades on all besieged cities and immediate humanitarian access to all affected areas — and it wants a public meeting of the Security Council on this issue.

New Zealand's UN Ambassador Gerard van Bohemen, who called Monday's council meeting with Spain, said "we recognize that a political solution is the answer to the wider problem, but humanitarian access cannot be held hostage to the politics."

Spain's UN Ambassador Roman Oyarzun Marchesi stressed that "besieging with the goal of starvation is a war crime."



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • New model confirms endangered right whales are declining

    World News CTV News
    PORTLAND, Maine -- Researchers with the federal government and the New England Aquarium have developed a new model they said will provide better estimates about the North Atlantic right whale population, and the news isn't good. Source
  • John McCain: Brain cancer prognosis ’very poor’

    World News Toronto Sun
    WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John McCain says doctors have given him a “very poor prognosis” as he battles brain cancer. McCain underwent surgery in July for a brain tumour that was later found to be a form of glioblastoma, the same type of cancer that took the life of his former Senate colleague Edward M. Source
  • Chelsea Manning says she was denied entry to Canada for convictions similar to treason

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    OTTAWA — The former U.S. soldier who leaked thousands of classified military documents says she’s been barred from entering Canada as a result of her criminal record. Chelsea Manning posted a letter from Canadian immigration officials online Monday detailing the reasons she was denied entry at a Quebec border crossing late last week. Source
  • New Zealand waits to see who will form government after minority election results

    World News CBC News
    New Zealanders will likely need to wait two or three weeks to find out who will next lead their country after a general election on Saturday ended with an inconclusive result. Prime Minister Bill English's National Party won the most votes but not enough to form a government without help from other political parties. Source
  • Suspect in Quebec Amber Alert case makes brief initial court appearance

    Canada News CTV News
    SAINT-JEROME, Que. -- The 41-year-old father at the heart of an Amber Alert in Quebec earlier this month made his first court appearance today. He kept his stare fixed to the ground as he briefly appeared before a judge in Saint-Jerome, Que. Source
  • North Korean diplomat says Donald Trump has ’declared war’ on his country

    World News Toronto Sun
    North Korea’s top diplomat said Monday that President Donald Trump’s tweet that leader Kim Jong Un “won’t be around much longer” was a declaration of war against his country by the United States. Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho told reporters that what he called Trump’s “declaration of war” gives North Korea “every right” under the U.N. Source
  • 'The scale is just vast': Authorities, aid workers in Bangladesh overwhelmed by Rohingya refugees

    World News CBC News
    Khanon Zahed survived a killing campaign at home and an epic cross-border escape, only to end up lying on a dirty sheet on the floor of a hallway at a Bangladesh hospital. Five-year-old Zahed is just one of the more than 430,000 Rohingya from Myanmar now sheltering in Bangladesh — an exodus of vast proportions that in the span of only one month has overwhelmed the authorities here and bewildered even the most seasoned aid workers. Source
  • Anthony Weiner sentenced to 21 months for sexting teen

    World News Toronto Sun
    NEW YORK — Former Rep. Anthony Weiner was sentenced Monday to 21 months in prison for sexting with a 15-year-old girl in a case that rocked Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the White House in the closing days of the race and may have cost her the presidency. Source
  • Warnings issued as record temperatures continue in Ontario, Quebec

    Canada News CTV News
    The first weekend of fall proved to be one of the hottest of the year in southern Ontario and Quebec as heat warnings spanned the area and continue into the week. Temperatures across the southern parts of both provinces exceeded 30 C with the humidex levels approaching the 40s over the weekend, breaking numerous heat records in the process. Source
  • Pennsylvania funeral director arrested over corpse pictures

    World News Toronto Sun
    EAST STROUDSBURG, Pa. — A Pennsylvania funeral director has been charged with abusing corpses for allegedly taking cellphone pictures of the dead to “gross out” her friends and family. Twenty-seven-year-old Angeliegha Stewart also faces a marijuana charge, after Monroe County detectives found conversations about deals when they searched her phone last month amid their investigation into the photos. Source