UN chief Ban pleads with Syria for aid-worker access

"The images we have seen is Syria are atrocious," Ban tells reporters; in a rare show of unity with Western powers, Russia and China join UNSC members in expressing "deep disappointment."

March 2, 2012 22:04
1 minute read.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon 390 (R). (photo credit: Michael Buholzer / Reuters)

UNITED NATIONS - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made an impassioned plea on Friday for Damascus to grant immediate access for aid workers to besieged Syrian towns, describing the images of death coming out of the country as atrocious.

Ban was speaking to reporters after the International Committee of the Red Cross told Syria it was unacceptable that its aid convoy had been prevented from entering a battle-scarred district of Homs where the opposition said President Bashar Assad's army had committed a massacre.

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"The images which we have seen in Syria (are) atrocious," Ban told reporters. "It's totally unacceptable, intolerable. How as a human being can you bear ... this situation? That really troubles me. I'm deeply sad seeing what's happening."

In a rare show of unity with Western powers, Russia and China joined other UN Security Council members on Thursday in expressing "deep disappointment" at Syria's failure to allow the UN humanitarian aid chief Valerie Amos to visit the country, and urged that she be allowed in immediately.

Russia and China have twice vetoed council resolutions that would have condemned Syria for the crackdown and demanded that it halt the crackdown on anti-Assad demonstrators.

Ban echoed the council's statement from Thursday.

"The Syrian authorities must open, without any preconditions, to humanitarian communities," he said. "Why are they afraid of receiving the head of the UN humanitarian department? We are ready to mobilize, we do not have access. So that is priority number one at this time."

The United Nations says Syrian security forces have killed more than 7,500 civilians during an 11-month government crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.

"All violence must stop," said Ban. "I am really urging Syrian authorities to stop (the) violence and allow humanitarian access."

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