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UN plans 90-day Syria aid, food plan

09 March 2012, 12:01

Geneva - The United Nations' humanitarian agency told diplomats it is preparing a 90-day aid plan for Syria with food stocks for 1.5 million people, officials said on Thursday.

Diplomats from among some 60 nations at a day long meeting in the UN's European headquarters said they were also pushing for more access for relief workers and discussed the UN's roughly $100m plan.

Several who attended say a fair number of nations offered individual pledges of millions of dollars, citing dire and unfilled humanitarian needs in Syria.

"There was a widely shared view that they are over-stretched... so others would have to come in, if at all possible," Claus Sorensen, head of the European Commission's humanitarian aid and civil protection, said in an interview.

Syrian President Bashar Assad's crackdown on a popular uprising has left thousands dead in the past year. The UN and aid groups have been largely barred from crisis zones there.

The UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs organized Thursday's first meeting of the new Syria Humanitarian Forum in Geneva, which was co-run by the humanitarian departments of the League of Arab States and Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

The UN plan includes food stocks inside and outside Syria, along with medical and trauma supplies and added nutritional items for children, said John Ging, who heads the co-ordination and response division of the UN's Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

But much depends on the outcome of OCHA head Valerie Amos' visit to Syria this week to negotiate access for international aid workers.

Diplomats from countries including Russia, China and Brazil debated the need for access even more than money, said Sorensen. But others - notably Syrians - dismissed the importance of the meeting.

"Frankly speaking, I haven't seen any concrete result of this meeting," Syria's UN ambassador, Faysal Khabbaz Hamoui, told reporters after it ended.

- AP


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