Syrian humanitarian crisis dire, EU says

June 5, 2013 at 11:34 AM
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BRUSSELS, June 5 (UPI) -- All parties to the conflict in Syria need to ensure there's unconditional access granted to humanitarian agencies, the European Commission president said.

EC President Jose Manuel Barroso addressed a summit of Russian and European Union leaders Wednesday in Brussels.

Russia is at odds with its Western counterparts regarding the best way to address the Syrian crisis. Speaking "independently from the broader concerns of political and security nature," Barroso told delegates there was a need for all parties to the conflict in Syria to grant access to civilians caught up in the conflict.

"I believe that now, all of us with the channels we have, should convey this message to the parties in conflict of unrestricted, unconditional access to humanitarian aid because what's going on in Syria today, is indeed a stain [on] mankind's conscience," he said in a statement.

A 29-page report published Tuesday by the International Commission of Inquiry on Syria said there are 6.8 million people trapped in Syria by conflict and half of those are children.

"Despite rapidly growing humanitarian needs, access to people in conflict-affected areas remains severely hindered," the report said. "Humanitarian workers face bureaucratic and operational obstacles."

Barroso said the EC provided about $1 billion in humanitarian assistance to refugees fleeing the crisis in Syria.

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