UNITED NATIONS, Aug 2 (KUNA) -- UN Humanitarian Chief Valerie Amos on Friday urged government and opposition forces in Syria to separate humanitarian issues from political agendas, protect civilians and allow aid organisations to reach and assist the needy in besieged areas.
She indicated in a statement issued by her office that humanitarian workers were risking their lives to help. "They need our support to be able to safely reach all people in need, wherever they are in Syria. Their job is to be neutral and impartial and it remains vital that efforts to provide humanitarian aid are separate from political agendas.
"The continued failure by parties to the conflict to protect civilians across Syria means that women, men, and children continue to be killed, injured and displaced across the country," she said.
She noted that thousands of people are trapped in areas besieged by government forces and opposition groups. Hundreds have reportedly been killed, injured or taken hostage in attacks in Homs, Aleppo and other areas of Syria in the last two days alone. People are being prevented from getting basic help, including food, drinking water and medical care.
She recalled that she and High-Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay have "publicly and frequently" called for the violence to stop.
"While others take the steps necessary to make that a reality, we need commitment by all parties to stop actions that result in loss of civilian lives, to allow access for aid organizations, and to respect their obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law," she stressed.
In a related matter, Anthony Lake, the Executive Director of the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) said the situation of women and children in the Syrian city of Homs is "rapidly deteriorating," with some 400,000 civilians now displaced in the district of Al Waer, living in partially constructed buildings, schools and other public buildings.
"In recent days the situation in Al Waer has worsened, with reports of intense daily clashes, and rocket and mortar strikes causing many casualties," he said in the statement.
He said the Fund has been aiding partners to distribute nutrition and basic hygiene supplies while striving to maintain sufficient water for the innocent people caught up in the fighting, the majority of whom are women and children.
But he complained that new checkpoints are preventing more supplies from entering the area. Water and electricity are still available for now but vegetables, milk and other essentials are in increasingly short supply. "Our own emergency supplies will run out within days," he warned.
"We call on all parties to facilitate immediate safe access to these families so we can provide life-saving assistance, and to allow those families currently trapped in Al Waer who wish to leave to do so in safety and in dignity," he urged.
"Cannot all those involved agree that the innocent women and children in Homs, and across Syria, should be spared all possible suffering?" he wondered. (end) sj.bs KUNA 030037 Aug 13NNNN