March 14, 2014 - 21:07 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Syria's government has promised greater access for aid groups supporting millions of Syrians, but faster progress is needed to tackle a dire humanitarian crisis, the head of the United Nations children's agency said on Friday, March 14, according to Reuters
UNICEF executive director Anthony Lake, speaking at a refugee camp for Syrians in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, said he was encouraged by "business-like" talks he held this week with Syrian officials in Damascus and Homs.
"They said yes, they would be offering more access, allowing us to bring in more different kinds of supplies," Lake said, adding that it had already become easier to move food and medicine across frontlines separating President Bashar al-Assad's forces from rebel fighters.
"We have to translate that now into continuing and much more rapid progress because the progress is not equal to the scope of the tragedy," he told Reuters.
In a rare display of unity over Syria, the UN Security Council last month called unanimously for greater aid access in the country, including a demand for cross-border access which Damascus has resisted because it has lost control of some border regions.
Lake gave no details, but aid workers said Syria had offered to let relief goods pass through Turkey's Nusaybin crossing into northeastern Syria, a Kurdish region which has assumed a degree of autonomy but where Assad's security forces are still present.
As Syria's devastating conflict enters its fourth year, more than 2.5 million Syrians are living as refugees in neighboring countries and another 6.5 million are displaced internally.
The number of people displaced now exceeds 40 percent of Syria's pre-war population, the highest total in the world, the head of the refugee agency UNHCR said.