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DAMASCUS – United Nation’s envoy to Syria said Tuesday that President Bashar Assad’s government has allowed more humanitarian aid to reach besieged cities and towns in the country “only to bombard those same areas before and after the convoys arrived”.
Staffan de Mistura, the UN special envoy to Syria, spoke to the U.N. General Assembly about his office’s efforts to help delivering aid to embattled Syrians, and to bring the Syrian regime and opposition delegations back to peace talks in a bid to end Syria’s civil war, now in its sixth year.
The envoy said that while access to hard-to-reach and besieged areas has improved, reaching an estimated 300,000 people compared with zero only a year ago, it is not nearly enough and has come with added complications.
“There has been a trend in the last weeks that the very areas where there has been a breakthrough of delivering humanitarian aid to besieged areas have been then shelled, before and after the convoys have reached all the parties,” de Mistura told the U.N. General Assembly in New York, speaking by videoconference from Geneva.
The U.N. special envoy also expressed his hopes to revive peace talks between the Syrian regime and opposition factions, although there has been no remarkable progress toward a political transition for Syria.
“The window of opportunity is coming quickly to a close unless we maintain alive the cessation of hostilities, we increase the humanitarian aid, we come to some common understanding about transition so we can have, hopefully in July, intra-Syrian talks not about principles but about concrete steps toward political transitions. This is what we are aiming at and that’s what we will be able to reach,” de Mistura said.
In the meantime, the U.N. humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien said the ongoing conflict in Syria has dropped the life expectancy by 20 years since the beginning of the war in 2011. , According to O’Brien, half of the country’s population has now been forcibly displaced, and 13.5 million people remain in urgent need of humanitarian assistance and protection, with 80 percent of Syrians living in poverty.
By: Laila Majdalawi