UN official to visit Syria to discuss increasing aid

Amos's visit comes amid growing humanitarian concerns; she will also travel to Lebanon to meet Syrian families who fled fighting.

Syria fighting 370 (photo credit: Goran Tomasevic / Reuters)
Syria fighting 370
(photo credit: Goran Tomasevic / Reuters)
GENEVA - United Nations humanitarian chief Valerie Amos will go to Syria on Tuesday to discuss ways of increasing emergency aid to civilians caught up in the conflict there, a UN statement said on Monday.
Amos will also visit Lebanon, where she will meet Syrian families who have fled the fighting, and hold talks on providing support to the growing number of refugees, it said.
The humanitarian situation in Syria has worsened in recent weeks. "Two million people are now estimated to have been affected by the crisis and over one million have been internally displaced," the statement said.
Nearly 150,000 Syrian refugees have registered in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey since the conflict began 17 months ago, the UN refugee agency said on Friday.
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Amos was last in Syria in March to seek unhindered access for aid workers to the worst-hit areas. She secured an agreement from the government for a joint but limited assessment of the humanitarian situation in the country.
The United Nations has been trying to expand aid operations in Syria, but despite growing needs, the authorities have refused to grant visas to Western aid workers, a UN official said last month. Growing insecurity forced the United Nations to withdraw some expatriate aid workers from Syria in late July.
The world body has relied on the Syrian Arab Red Crescent to distribute its aid supplies, including food rations to 542,000 people in July, falling well short of its target of 850,000.
Also Monday, China confirmed that an envoy of Syrian President Bashar Assad would visit Beijing beginning Tuesday.
The envoy, Bouthaina Shaaban, is scheduled to meet with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, the ministry said in a statement, adding that China was also considering inviting members of the Syrian opposition to visit.
"To promote the political solution to the Syria problem, China has always actively balanced its work between the Syrian government and the opposition," ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in a statement on the ministry's website.