UN Humanitarian Chief Visits Battered Syria District

Posted March 7th, 2012 at 12:00 pm (UTC-5)
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The International Committee of the Red Cross says United Nations humanitarian chief Valerie Amos has entered the former Syrian rebel stronghold of Baba Amr almost a week after the rebels fled a month-long assault by government forces.

An ICRC spokesman in Geneva told VOA that Amos joined a Syrian Arab Red Crescent team on a 45-minute visit to the battered neighborhood in the central city of Homs on Wednesday. The spokesman says the Red Crescent team found that most residents of Baba Amr had fled to nearby areas where aid workers have been distributing food and medical supplies in recent days.

It is the first time the Syrian government has allowed a foreign official or aid workers to enter Baba Amr since it began a deadly bombardment of the district in early February. Syrian rights activists and witnesses say the assault killed hundreds of people and left residents desperately short of food, water and medical care.

Aid workers had been waiting to send a convoy of supplies into Baba Amr since last Friday, but Syrian authorities kept them out, citing security problems.

Earlier Wednesday, Amos met with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem in Damascus at the start of a three-day mission to examine the humanitarian plight of communities targeted by a government crackdown on a year-long opposition uprising.

Syrian state news agency SANA says Moualem told Amos that the government is trying to provide food and medical aid to citizens despite what he called the burden of unfair Western and Arab sanctions on Syria.