UN can't reach residents of Islamic State's de facto capital

AP News
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Posted: Jan 28, 2015 2:13 PM

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United Nations says it cannot deliver aid to 600,000 people in two Syrian cities controlled by the Islamic State group.

Deputy humanitarian chief Kyung-wha Kang told the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday that residents of the Islamic State group's de facto capital of Raqqa and the city of Deir ez Zor received no food deliveries in December because the U.N. had no agreement with armed groups there.

The U.N.'s monthly reports on efforts to get food and other aid to millions trapped in Syria's four-year civil war have been unrelentingly grim. Kang said 12 million people inside Syria need humanitarian aid, and 3.8 million people have fled to neighboring countries. Another 7.6 million are displaced inside the country.

Kang urged the Security Council to find a way to end the war.

"We must not allow the world to forget Syria and the atrocities being committed against its people," she said.

The council later issued a statement expressing alarm at the humanitarian situation and "great concern" at the continuing violations of human rights in Syria.

The U.N. has repeatedly accused the Syrian government of attacks against its own people, including the shelling and airstrikes on populated areas. It also accuses armed opposition groups and terrorist groups of using explosives in populated areas.

More than 200,000 people have been killed in Syria since an uprising against President Bashar Assad in March 2011 turned into a grinding civil war.

The U.N. has struggled to get aid to those in need, and it continues to pressure the Syrian government to allow easier access for U.N. agencies and humanitarian groups. Kang said there had been no progress in addressing those constraints.

Syria's representative told the Security Council on Wednesday that U.N. aid is "reaching terrorist organizations" and that without Syrian government protection the U.N. wouldn't be able to deliver aid to anyone.

The U.N. last year began shipping aid into Syria from Turkey and Jordan without waiting for Syrian government approval and is under pressure to send more. But funding is a challenge. Kang said humanitarian work in Syria requires $2.9 billion this year alone, and that the international community funded less than half — 48 percent — of last year's appeal.