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UN relief chief and Joint Special Envoy Annan to visit Syria this week

Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos.
UN Photo/Mark Garten
Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos.

UN relief chief and Joint Special Envoy Annan to visit Syria this week

United Nations relief chief Valerie Amos will arrive in Syria on Wednesday to urge parties to the conflict to allow in humanitarian assistance, while the international envoy on the crisis, Kofi Annan, is due in the region to begin efforts to end the violence, it was announced today.

“The Syrian authorities have confirmed that I can visit Syria this week. I will arrive in Damascus on Wednesday 7 March and leave on Friday 9 March,” Ms. Amos, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, said in a statement.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last month asked Ms. Amos, who is also the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, to visit Syria to assess the humanitarian situation there and renew the call for urgent humanitarian access

However, Syrian authorities delayed permission for her trip, prompting the Security Council to voice disappointment last week over the delay “despite repeated requests and intense diplomatic contacts aimed at securing Syrian approval.”

Mr. Annan, the Joint Special Envoy of the UN and the League of Arab States on the Syrian crisis, will begin his visit to region on Wednesday in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, where he will meet with the League’s Secretary-General, Nabil El-Araby.

He will then proceed to Damascus on Saturday to seek an urgent end to all violence and human rights violations and to initiate efforts to promote a peaceful solution. He is also due to visit other countries in the region.

Ms. Amos and other top UN officials have repeatedly called on Syrian authorities to stop the violence and to allow humanitarian workers to have access to those in need.

Thousands of people, mostly civilians, have been killed since the uprising – part of the broader Arab Spring movement across North Africa and the Middle East – began almost a year ago.

On Friday, Mr. Ban underlined the need for concerted action to end the crisis, lamenting that the international community has thus far failed in its responsibility to stop the bloodshed in Syria.

“In fact, the actions – indeed, the inaction — of the international community seems to have encouraged the Syrian authorities in their brutal suppression of its citizens,” Mr. Ban said as he reported to the General Assembly on the implementation of its 16 February resolution on Syria.

That resolution strongly condemned the continued “widespread and systematic” human rights violations by the Syrian authorities and demanded that the Government immediately cease all violence and protect its people.