BEIRUT - United Nations and independent aid officials called on Saturday for swift agreement to allow supplies from Turkey into northeastern Syria, a move that would mark a small step towards implementing a U.N. demand for cross-border humanitarian access.
More than 9 million people inside Syria are in need of aid - close to half the population still in the country - according to the United Nations, but many of them are separated from the main aid operation centre in the capital Damascus.
The U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded last month that Syrian authorities and rebels promptly allow access for humanitarian supplies across front lines and borders so that aid reaches affected areas by the most direct routes.
Aid workers and officials say President Bashar Assad's government has proposed letting supplies cross into the Kurdish city of Qamishli through Turkey's Nusaybin border post.
"The Syrian government has agreed to open the crossing there. There are still arrangements being worked out with the Turkish government," said Anthony Lake, executive director of the U.N. children's agency UNICEF.
"All of us have convoys ready to go and we urge that they work out those arrangements as quickly as possible," he told a joint news conference in Beirut alongside the heads of four other aid agencies working on Syria's humanitarian crisis.
They were visiting Lebanon to mark the third anniversary of a conflict which has killed more than 140,000 people, driven 2.5 million to seek refuge abroad and displaced a total of 9 million - the highest number in any current conflict worldwide.