Newspaper article International New York Times

U.N. Seeks More Ways to Deliver Aid to Syrians ; Most Humanitarian Relief Now Ends Up in Parts of Country Held by Assad

Newspaper article International New York Times

U.N. Seeks More Ways to Deliver Aid to Syrians ; Most Humanitarian Relief Now Ends Up in Parts of Country Held by Assad

Article excerpt

The United Nations is under pressure to ratchet up aid to nongovernmental organizations that can operate in the vast swaths under opposition control.

The United Nations is under pressure to increase aid to nongovernmental organizations that can operate in the vast sections of Syria under opposition control, as most of the humanitarian relief sponsored by the organization ends up in the western slice of the country held by President Bashar al-Assad.

More than 85 percent of food aid and more than 70 percent of medicines went to government-held areas in the first three months of this year, compared with a split of roughly 50-50 a year ago, because of intensified conflict on the ground, according to the United Nations.

That stark inequality, which Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is due to disclose this week in his monthly assessment to the Security Council, is likely to inflame the sentiments of Western and Arab donors who are already leaning on United Nations agencies to divert aid from the government to zones under the control of Mr. Assad's opponents.

That, senior United Nations officials say, is easier said than done. Trucking in aid from Turkey without the Syrian government's consent would risk expulsion from the country and in turn losing the ability to deliver relief to more than four million people who live in government-held areas.

John Ging, who manages field operations worldwide for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said the agencies had been told by the government that they would be kicked out of government-held parts of the country if they crossed borders without the state's consent.

"The calculation of what to do in the face of such threats and obstruction is very complex; history will judge as to whether we got it right or wrong," Mr. Ging said. "In the meantime, we will never accept being blocked from saving lives and have appealed to the Security Council for help."

Cross-border aid is a tricky matter for the United Nations agencies because of a raging debate inside the world body about whether the law allows them to enter Syrian territory without the state's permission. …

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