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Ban Ki-moon urges aid access in Syria, says neither side cooperating

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has told the Security Council that a resolution demanding humanitarian aid access in Syria is being honored by neither the government nor rebel fighters.

Ban Ki-moon told the UN late on Wednesday in New York that a Security Council resolution demanding access for humanitarian aid in Syria, implemented in February, had not improved the situation.

"The security situation is deteriorating and humanitarian access to those most in need is not improving. It remains an extremely challenging environment in which to work," Ban wrote in his second monthly report on the implementation of Security Council Resolution 2139.

The 21-page paper said that almost 3.5 million people in Syria were still in need of essential goods and services, including potentially life-saving medicines.

"The Security Council must take action to deal with these flagrant violations of the basic principles of international law," he wrote, without specifying what possible measures.

Rebels and government forces had both refused to lift sieges of populated areas in the protracted civil war, Ban's report said it was "shameful that nearly a quarter of a million people are being deliberately forced to live under such conditions."

Flashpoint Aleppo

The report also focused on the issue of access across Syrian borders with neighbors like Jordan and Turkey. The Syrian government in Damascus had said in the past that it would only allow aid to enter through the border crossings it controls.

Ban's report followed a call from the UN's top humanitarian agencies earlier on Wednesday for an end to siege warfare in Syria and more aid access. This report highlighted the northern city of Aleppo in particular, saying at least 1 million people there urgently required assistance. The road linking Aleppo to the capital Damascus has frequently been cut during the conflict, impeding access.

When agreed, almost three years into the fighting in Syria, the Resolution 2139 was hailed as something of a breakthrough. It followed months of Security Council deadlock between NATO countries, largely supportive of Syria's rebels, and Russia and China, considered closer to the government of President Bashar al-Assad. Previous, stronger resolutions aimed specifically at the government in Damascus were voted down.

msh/lw (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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