Syria to allow health needs assessment: UN | News | DW | 09.03.2012
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Syria to allow health needs assessment: UN

Syria has agreed to allow a survey of the basic medical needs of people in four cities that have been ravaged in the regime's crackdown on opposition forces, according to UN officials.

Valerie Amos said on Friday the Syrian government would permit the assessment of locals' relief needs in areas hit badly by the conflict.

However, the UN agencies for health and population will have to depend on the help of local medical students, Syrian Red Crescent workers and other non-governmental organizations to carry out the survey.

Amos also said that Damascus must allow aid workers "unhindered access to the wounded and deliver desperately needed supplies."

The aid chief said she was "horrified by the destruction" she saw when she visited the embattled Baba Amr neighborhood of Homs on Wednesday. The former rebel stronghold was bombarded for a month by government forces, which stormed and retook it last week. Amos said hardly any people left there during her visit.

Valerie Amos

Amos was 'horrified' by the destruction in Homs

Some 1.5 million people may be in need of food aid in the country, a UN spokeswoman for the office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, told reporters in Geneva on Friday.

EU praises sanctions

At a meeting in Copenhagen on Friday, European Union foreign ministers said that sanctions against the regime of Bashar al-Assad were working, pointing to defections from high-level government officials as proof.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said the regime was in an increasing "state of dissolution."

"We must be patient," said Luxembourg's foreign minister, Jean Asselborn. "We will unfortunately have to accept to see enormously more victims, but military intervention would be worse."

Turkish officials said on Friday that several senior Syrian military officers had defected to Turkey on Thursday, the same day a video was released of Syria's deputy oil minister saying he was joining the opposition.

Opposition rejects call for dialogue

UN envoy Kofi Annan is due to travel to Damascus on Saturday and has called for talks between the government and rebels to put an end to the year-long conflict.

Watch video 02:07

Kofi Annan is set to arrive in Syria Saturday

Syrian opposition members have, however, rejected Annan's call, saying that a dialogue was pointless as long as the regime continues to kill people.

"I think such statements will do no good for the Syrian people. Instead it will give the regime a kind of a green light to kill more Syrians," Walid al- Buni, a member of the opposition Syrian National Council, told news agency DPA.

Activists said that government forces killed scores of people in violence in the city of Homs and elsewhere in the country on Friday. These reports cannot be independently verified, as media access to Syria remains limited.

The UN says that over 7,500 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began.

ncy/sjt (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)

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