U.N. humanitarian chief says to visit Syria this week

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 05, 2012 10:36 AM
U.N. humanitarian chief says to visit Syria this week

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.N. humanitarian affairs chief Valerie Amos said on Monday that the Syrian government had agreed to allow her to visit later this week, an announcement that followed sharp international criticism of Damascus for not allowing her into Syria.

"As requested by the Secretary-General (Ban Ki-moon), my aim is to urge all parties to allow unhindered access for humanitarian relief workers so that they can evacuate the wounded and deliver essential supplies," she said in a statement.

Amos said she plans to be in Syria from Wednesday to Friday.

Syria's decision to allow Amos into the country comes after intensifying international criticism, including a rare rebuke of Damascus by the U.N. Security Council last week for failing to grant the U.N. humanitarian chief access to Syrian conflict zones.

It was not immediately clear whether Amos would have the unhindered access she has been demanding.

Syria's state media said that Amos will meet with the Syrian foreign minister and the head of Syria's Red Crescent. It also said that Amos will visit several areas in Syria but did not specify where she would go.

The United Nations says that over 7,500 civilians have died in Syria's nearly year-long crackdown on protests against the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

(Reporting By Louis Charbonneau in New York and Mariam Karouny in Beirut; Editing by Paul Simao)