Britain backed international calls to allow aid agencies into Syria today, after its government blocked a visit by the UN’s top humanitarian chief.
Baroness Valerie Amos - who leads the United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs - was not granted access to the country after asking to meet with Syrian officials to discuss humanitarian access.
Ms Amos supported the International Committee of the Red Cross’ (ICRC) call for a pause in the hostilities so that aid agencies can reach those affected by the fighting, evacuate the wounded and deliver supplies of food and medicine.
In a statement released by her office, Baroness Amos said:
I am deeply disappointed that I have not been able to visit Syria, despite my repeated requests to meet Syrian officials at the highest level.
Every day that we are not able to reach people, especially in the towns where there is heavy fighting, prolongs their suffering.
The United Nations and its partners stand ready to help humanitarian aid reach people in desperate need in Syria.
International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said:
I am appalled at the news that UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Baroness Amos’ request to visit Syria to assess the humanitarian situation has not been granted.
The whole world has come together in recent days to urge the Assad regime to allow immediate and unhindered access for humanitarian agencies who are looking to assist all Syrians affected by the current crisis. This shows the regime’s utter disregard for its people and leaves it isolated on the international stage.
We must now rally together to make this clear and increase the pressure on the regime to alter its stance. The UK will continue to demand unfettered access and support neutral and impartial agencies in their effort to provide vital humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people”.
Earlier this month, the UK announced a package of support to help get food and medical supplies to tens of thousands of Syrians affected by the fighting.
The emergency aid from the UK will reach those caught up in the violence around the city of Homs and more widely across Syria.
In further developments, Foreign Secretary William Hague has also warned the Assad regime against an assault on Homs, after hearing reports that his Government may be preparing a land attack on the besieged city.
The Foreign Office have also announced the withdrawal of all British diplomatic staff from Syria due to the worsening security situation.