UN reducing international staff in Damascus

AP News
Posted: Mar 25, 2013 3:02 PM

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United Nations said Monday it was temporarily reducing its international staff in Damascus following mortar fire that damaged a hotel and a U.N. vehicle.

The U.N. will relocate some Damascus-based staff of the office of joint U.N.-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi to Beirut and to the office's main office in Cairo and it has asked all national staff from the office to work from home until further notice, U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said.

Nesirky said the relocation involves about half of the roughly 100 international staff in Damascus and some of the 800 national staff in the Syrian capital.

The shelling Sunday and Monday in proximity to the hotel and on the grounds caused some damage to the building and cars, including a U.N. vehicle, he said.

"These measures are being undertaken solely for security reasons," Nesirky said.

Nesirky said critically needed humanitarian aid will continue.

"U.N. agencies and their partners remain committed to providing humanitarian assistance to millions in need across Syria and will maintain a number of staff inside Syria to continue running these critical programs and deliver aid to civilians in need," he said.