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Access Continues To Be Main Problem For Aid Orgs In Syria

Access Continues To Be Main Problem For Aid Orgs In Syria
4/26/2012 4:14 PM ET

Even as the World Food Program announces it will scale up its food assistance to reach 250,000 Syrians by the end of April, the State Department warned continued access problems will mean many Syrians will not have access to the food and supplies they need.

"Current humanitarian access restrictions remain a significant challenge to the aid effort," USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance Christa Capozzola told reporters Thursday. "We continue to urge the government of Syria" to allow unfettered access to conflict-affected areas.

Over $33 million in aid has been provided by the United States to conflict-affected Syrians inside the country as well as in Lebanon and Turkey, State Department Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration Kelly Clements added, but this is not enough.

The United Nations estimates one million Syrians inside their own country are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. Food, water, basic healthcare and medical supplies from the U.S. are reaching about 400,000 people in Syria and neighboring countries through the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) and the WFP, but "the access problem is really the main impediment," Capozzola stressed.

The WFP on Wednesday announced it would scale up its food assistance efforts to reach a quarter of a million people by the end of April. But with increased violence in recent days, access is limiting these efforts.

Clements confirmed Thursday a SARC volunteer was killed and three others injured this week while distributing supplies outside of Damascus. Capozzola also confirmed there have been attacks on makeshift clinics.

Meanwhile, the U.S. government and international community can only continue to request the government to provide unfettered access to civilians.

Even as UN truce monitors enter the country, at least 16 people were killed after a massive explosion hit a civilian area in the western city of Hama. Syrian rebels said the blast was caused by Syrian government forces, while the government blamed it on "terrorists."

by RTT Staff Writer

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