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Saudi Arabia Warns of Deteriorating Humanitarian Situation in Syria | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Syrian men look at the damage on June 13, 2016, following reported air strikes the previous night on the rebel-held neighborhood of al-Mashhad in the northern city of Aleppo. AFP

London-Saudi Arabia has sent an urgent appeal to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the head of the General assembly over the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Syria.

On behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council states and 59 countries, Riyadh called for an end to the violations committed by the Syrian regime against unarmed civilians.

Saudi Arabia’s appeal came as dozens of activist groups opposed to Syria’s regime accused the U.N. on Wednesday of “capitulating” to Damascus on aid access to desperate civilians.

The Saudi letter expressed deep concern over the humanitarian situation in Syria and called for the importance of bringing humanitarian and medical aid to needy Syrians without obstacles, in accordance to U.N. Security Council resolutions.

Nine states have signed the letter, and 59 countries have backed it.

The scathing 50-page report by The Syria Campaign advocacy group was signed by 55 Syrian organizations opposed to the regime, including the White Helmets organization made up of emergency responders in rebel-held areas.

The U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Syria, Yaacoub El Hillo, said however that while aid access was not ideal, the U.N. continues to “assist Syrians based on need.”

Based on testimonies from current and former U.N. staff and other aid workers, the report alleged that the U.N. in Syria was “in breach of its humanitarian principles and therefore at risk of fueling the conflict.”

It accused the U.N. of “choosing to prioritize cooperation with the Syrian” regime “at all costs,” allowing it to unduly influence U.N. aid strategy.

As a result, most assistance goes to regime-held territory where permission is granted, instead of opposition areas where aid is most needed, the report said.

Reacting to the report during a visit to Beirut on Wednesday, Hillo told journalists, including an Agence France Presse reporter, the organization does “not assist Syrians based on location. We assist Syrians based on need.”

Sending an aid convoy to a besieged town without proper authorization would be a “suicide mission for humanitarian workers,” he said.

Hillo admitted the regime had “obstructed” access to some besieged areas.

“But because of it, do we condemn the rest to starvation?” he asked.