Aid statement on Syria a 'stepping stone'

Oct. 3, 2013 at 12:18 PM
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BRUSSELS, Oct. 3 (UPI) -- A statement from the United Nations on humanitarian access to Syrians in need is a "stepping stone" for a much-needed response, an EU leader said Thursday.

The U.N. Security Council issued a presidential statement Wednesday calling on all member states to respond swiftly to humanitarian appeals to meet "the spiraling needs of people inside Syria and Syrian refugees in neighboring countries."

European Commissioner for Crisis Response Kristalina Georgieva said Thursday there were an estimated 7 million Syrians in need of some form of humanitarian assistance.

"The presidential statement is an important stepping stone," she said. "Bureaucratic hurdles to the delivery of emergency humanitarian assistance must be lifted."

She said Monday the European Union estimated the number of refugees in Syria has increased from 270,000 a year ago to more than 2.1 million this year. It "will take years" to address the crisis even if a political solution is reached, she said.

The British government said Wednesday the humanitarian statement meant it was time for the Syrian government to open its doors to aid workers.

"It is vital that aid can get through as quickly as possible to those who need it most," British International Development Secretary Justine Greening said in a statement.

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