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UN humanitarian chief stresses need for access to Syria
January 31,2019   By:Xinhua

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Jan. 31, 2019 -- hoto taken on Jan. 30, 2019 shows the United Nations Security Council holding a meeting on the situation in Syria, at the UN headquarters in New York. (Xinhua/Li Muzi)

UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 31, 2019 -- UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock on Wednesday stressed the need for access to Syria so that aid can reach people in need, particularly in the context of harsh winter.

Lowcock, the UN undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs, said an aid convoy is urgently needed for some 42,000 people stranded in Rukban along the Syria-Jordan border.

Conditions in the informal settlement have continued to deteriorate since the last humanitarian convoy to the area on Nov. 3-8. Eight infants have reportedly died since last month. And the cold is making the situation even worse, Lowcock told the Security Council. "So it is critical that the parties support a second convoy to Rukban."

The United Nations has been engaged on multiple fronts to ensure it can happen, including by addressing concerns expressed by Russia and the government of Syria about the security of the convoy and monitoring arrangements for aid distributions, said Lowcock.

The convoy will include more than 100 trucks of relief supplies, focusing on food, winterization support and health, nutrition and household and water and sanitation items, as well as vaccination, he said.

The United Nations received verbal approval on Sunday from the Syrian Foreign Ministry for the convoy to proceed. Security guarantees have also been received from Russia and international coalition forces, said Lowcock.

"Planning is now under way for loading of the trucks to begin before the end of this week, and for them to set off by Feb. 5. We call on all parties to ensure that this goes ahead without any further delay."

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