U.N. calls for humanitarian access to trapped Syrians

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The U.N. Security Council urged the Syrian government on Wednesday to provide humanitarian access to civilians trapped in the country’s conflict.

The demanded access includes cross-border humanitarian operations and is the council’s second major united decision on the war in less than a week.

“The Security Council urges all parties, in particular the Syrian authorities, to take all appropriate steps to facilitate the efforts of the United Nations, its specialized agencies and all humanitarian actors engaged in humanitarian relief activities, to provide immediate humanitarian assistance to the affected people in Syria,” said the statement.

Security Council members said they wanted to quickly follow up on last week’s resolution to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons, Associated Press reported.

The statement added there should be “unhindered humanitarian access” across the conflict lines “and, where appropriate, across borders from neighboring countries.”

The Syrian government has opposed aid missions from neighboring countries saying the supplies will go to rebel forces. Some analysts have expressed doubt that rebel groups will let aid go to government areas.

The United Nations says there are now more than 2.1 million Syrian refugees outside the country and almost six million inside who have fled their homes because of the war which the UN says has left well over 100,000 people dead.

U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos has been pressing the Security Council for several months to act on the growing crisis.

U.N. agencies have a multi-billion dollar funding shortfall for their Syria relief efforts and U.N. leader Ban Ki-moon is to hold a new conference to rally financial support in Kuwait in January, diplomats said.

The statement was to be officially released later Wednesday, diplomats said.

(With AFP and AP)