Last updated: 22 January, 2014

US calls on Syria to immediately open up aid corridors

The United States on Wednesday urged Syria to prove its commitment to alleviating the suffering of the Syrian people and immediately open up corridors to allow in vital humanitarian aid.

“If the regime wants to make progress on humanitarian access, then it could immediately approve all proposed convoy movements requested by the UN,” a US official said.

And he hit out at claims by Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem that the regime was giving access to aid convoys to reach the stricken people, saying the comments were “laughable.”

“There have not been any real steps by the regime to provide even a small amount of aid and access to those places that need it most,” the US official said, asking not to be named.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon has estimated that half of the total population of Syrian people, nearly 9.3 million individuals, are in urgent need of humanitarian aid.

Muallem told the opening of peace talks in the Swiss lakeside city of Montreux “we have allowed humanitarian organisations access — (others) have prevented them from having access by shooting at them.”

But the US official again argued that the Syrian regime had forced the “convoys to take more dangerous routes, ensuring they don’t reach the intended destination”.

“Humanitarian agencies need to be able to determine the safest routes to reach the intended destinations,” the official added.

He also called for the Syrian regime to lift “the requirement for 72 hours’ advance notice for convoy movements; and allow humanitarian agencies to determine the safest routes to reach their intended destinations.”