‘Half a mil­lion’ Syr­i­ans now liv­ing un­der siege

Pakistan Observer - - INTERNATIONAL -

UNITED NA­TIONS—The num­ber of Syr­i­ans liv­ing un­der siege has grown by some 75,000 to to­tal 592,700, un­der­scor­ing the wors­en­ing plight of civil­ians in the five-year war, the UN aid chief said Fri­day.

Stephen O’Brien, the UN un­der-sec­re­tary-gen­eral for hu­man­i­tar­ian af­fairs, told the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil that the use of siege and star­va­tion as a weapon of war was “rep­re­hen­si­ble” and “must stop im­me­di­ately.”

The new fig­ure, up from 517,700, marks a fur­ther in­crease from a pre­vi­ous es­ti­mate of 486,700 peo­ple liv­ing in be­sieged ar­eas.

It in­cludes the res­i­dents of the Al Wa’er area of Homs in western Syria that have been un­der siege by Syr­ian gov­ern­ment forces since March, said O’Brien.

“To­day 592,700 peo­ple are liv­ing in be­sieged ar­eas be­cause of the ap­palling, de­te­ri­o­rat­ing sit­u­a­tion in Al Wa’er,” he told the coun­cil.

The United Na­tions is pre­par­ing to be­gin hu­man­i­tar­ian air drops over be­sieged ar­eas start­ing June 1, af­ter its re­peated de­mands for ac­cess to the block­aded towns were re­fused.

In May, Syr­ian au­thor­i­ties al­lowed aid de­liv­er­ies to 14 hard-to-reach ar­eas, far short of the re­quests to reach 35 towns on the UN list. O’Brien said the Da­m­as­cus regime had de­nied aid to more than 40 per­cent of the tar­get pop­u­la­tion for May, in­clud­ing in Aleppo, Al Wa’er and Tal­biseh.

Syr­ian Am­bas­sador Bashar Jaa­fari de­nied that his gov­ern­ment was block­ing aid and said that 19 of the 26 UN re­quests for hu­man­i­tar­ian con­voys had been ap­proved for the month of May.

Of the 19 ap­proved con­voys, the United Na­tions only sent three, said Jaa­fari. The am­bas­sador com­plained that the sit­u­a­tion con­cern­ing hu­man­i­tar­ian aid “is ma­nip­u­lated” and that UN fig­ures were “far from re­al­ity, based on un­known sources or un­re­li­able ones.”—Agen­cies

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