UNITED NATIONS - Building on a fragile unity, the UN Security Council on Wednesday urged the Syrian government to allow cross-border aid deliveries and called on all parties to Syria's conflict to agree on humanitarian pauses in fighting and key routes for aid convoys.
More than 2 million Syrians, mostly women and children, have fled during the 2-1/2-year-old civil war, which the United Nations says has killed more than 100,000 people. Millions more inside Syria are in desperate need of help, but aid has slowed to a trickle because of violence and excessive red tape.
The 15-member Security Council agreed to a non-binding statement in a bid to boost aid access, drafted by Australia and Luxembourg, after overcoming a long diplomatic deadlock on Friday between Russia and Western powers to pass a resolution to rid Syria of chemical weapons.
UN aid chief Valerie Amos said that if the statement's requests on aid access were implemented fully then humanitarian groups could help some 2 million people in Syria who have for many months been unreachable.
"Our task now is to turn these strong words into meaningful action for the children, women and men who continue to be the victims of the brutality and violence," Amos told reporters.
Syrian UN Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari said the Syrian government would study the council statement before responding.
The statement urges Syrian President Bashar Assad's authorities to "take immediate steps to facilitate the expansion of humanitarian relief operations, and lift bureaucratic impediments and other obstacles."