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MEP: UN-Mandate access humanitarian aid Syria top EU priority

The EU should take the lead in securing a mandate of the UN Security Council demanding unrestricted access to humanitarian aid in Syria. Dutch Member of European Parliament Marietje Schaake (ALDE/D66) will urge EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in a debate this Wednesday to take such action. Today humanitarian aid only reaches few Syrians as President Assad can decide where relief organisations get access. Schaake: "The UN Security Council should adopt a mandate that can force unrestricted access. France and the United Kingdom, as permanent members of the Security Council, should initiate a new resolution establishing such a mandate. Ashton should coordinate these efforts and gather EU-wide support."

Winter Schaake points to the horrible images reaching the world via TV and internet. "Every day we see families and young children in packed refugee camps in neighbouring countries forced to sleep on the snow or in the mud. Inside Syria another 4 million people are in dire need of direct help, with the coldest period of the winter still lying ahead", she says.

Russia So far Russia slowed down an adequate international response to the Syrian crisis. Moscow used its veto in the UN Security Council twice, barring the adoption of a Resolution that would condemn the violence against the civil population and would establish an international arms embargo. Recently Russia seems committed to efforts by UN envoy for Syria Lakdhar Brahimi in finding a political solution. Schaake: "A binding Security Council mandate for unrestricted access of humanitarian aid can be an important but objective step, without precluding the details of a political solution. Such a mandate could allow for the provision of tents, blankets, food and medicines from Turkey to the Northern parts of Syria. Assad is refusing access there because some parts can be considered 'liberated areas'." Schaake fears that President Assad will use the cutting of aid supplies and the following humanitarian suffering as a weapon of war.

Political solution While the international community almost unanimously seeks to find a political solution to the war in Syria, diplomatic efforts are in a complete lockdown. Only last week President Assad dismissed a new proposal by Mr Brahimi, which also enjoyed Russian support. Schaake: "Russia is principally against regime change dictated by the UN Security Council. On the other hand the Syrian National Coalition refuses to talk about a transitional government without Assad stepping down beforehand. This stalemate renders the situation complex and without any prospect of improvement." Schaake considers the key thing the international community can do is to provide relief to the million of Syrians who are trapped between the violence by the government and the armed opposition groups.