Turkey plans to lodge a formal request with the United Nations for a humanitarian operation to help Syrians suffering a “humanitarian tragedy” in their country, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Saturday.
“I gave instructions today to lodge a request with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Geneva on the subject of humanitarian aid,” the Anatolia news agency quoted Davutoglu as saying during a visit to Washington.
“Turkey is launching an initiative at the U.N. office in Geneva to put in place a flow of humanitarian aid towards Syria,” he said, lamenting a “humanitarian tragedy” unfolding notably in central Homs and in Zabadani, near the capital Damascus, being shelled by the Syrian army.
As the OHCHR does not have a humanitarian remit, the initiative would likely be taken up by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), but Davutoglu did not elaborate on the procedure to be followed.
A Turkish diplomat told AFP on condition of anonymity that Ankara would “bring the issue to the attention of the OHCHR” as well as other U.N. bodies specializing in humanitarian aid such as OCHA, which is also based in Geneva.
Davutoglu, who was to meet his U.S. counterpart Hillary Clinton on Monday, said Turkey planned to raise the issue of the crackdown in Syria before the U.N. General Assembly, after the U.N. Security Council last weekend failed to pass a resolution on the crisis because of vetoes by Russia and China.
“We will step up our initiatives both to bring the subject before the General Assembly ... and to bring humanitarian aid to our Syrian brothers in the framework of the OHCHR,” he said.
Turkey is a former ally of Syria but broke ties with the regime over the crackdown which has claimed more than 6,000 lives, according to rights organizations, since March 2011.