Source: UN quietly halves aid force in Syria

July 25, 2012 19:05

GENEVA - The United Nations has halved the number of international aid workers deployed in Syria in the past week due to the deteriorating security situation in Damascus, a UN source said on Wednesday.

The decision to "relocate" staff deemed non-essential for humanitarian operations was taken by UN security officials last Thursday, a day after an explosion killed four members of President Bashar Assad's inner circle in the capital.

"I believe 30 international staff are left in Syria now," the source told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

John Ging, a senior UN aid official, said on July 16 - two days before the bombing - that 60 expatriate staff were working in the country at the time. But Syria was refusing visas to Western aid workers, hampering UN aid efforts.

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