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UN aid chief urges Syrian regime for access

Cease-fire 'extremely welcome' but Syrian government unresponsive despite ongoing talks, O'Brien says

January 1, 2017 at 5:42 pm

United Nations aid chief Stephen O’Brien urged the Syrian regime Friday to allow the global body to deliver humanitarian aid to thousands of war-weary civilians, in the wake of a ceasefire that started Thursday night.

The regime has been unresponsive to UN requests despite “incessant and relentless contacts going on” with Syrian officials, O’Brien told The Associated Press in an interview.

“We simply need the assurances and the guarantees of safety in order to have the full access to everybody who has needs,” he said.

He called the cessation of hostilities declared by the regime after efforts by Russia and Turkey as “extremely welcome”, while stressing the need for access for UN aid workers and materials that are already on the ground.

Turkey and the Russia will act as guarantor countries in support of the nationwide ceasefire agreed by the Bashar al-Assad regime and the main Syrian opposition groups. It comes after five years of fighting and involves a return to peace talks.

Syria has been locked in a devastating war since early 2011, when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests – which erupted as part of the Arab Spring uprisings – with unexpected ferocity.

Read: Air strikes and clashes persist on day 3 of Syrian truce