UN: Syria refusing visas for Western aid workers

July 16, 2012 20:30

GENEVA - Syria is refusing visas to Western aid workers, hampering United Nations efforts to expand further its humanitarian operation to meet growing needs in the conflict-torn country, a senior UN aid official said on Monday.

Some 1.5 million people require assistance in Syria amid escalating violence and "political failure" to resolve the crisis, John Ging told reporters in Geneva.

Insecurity remains a tremendous challenge as fighting prevents aid agencies from reaching increasingly hungry and desperate civilians in flashpoint areas including Homs, he said.

"We have a number of visas pending for international staff from a number of Western countries - the United States, Canada, the UK, France and one or two more - that are refused their visas because of their nationalities," said Ging, of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

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