UN chief calls for access for further aid convoys in Syria

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. (AP)
Updated 07 March 2018
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UN chief calls for access for further aid convoys in Syria

UNITED NATIONS: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called Tuesday for aid convoys to have immediate access in Syria a day after air strikes cut short deliveries of food and medicine to Eastern Ghouta.
Guterres urged all warring sides to allow aid trucks to return Thursday to the main town of Douma in Eastern Ghouta to complete the delivery of humanitarian supplies “as previously agreed with the Syrian authorities,” a UN statement read.
As air strikes and artillery fire continued, aid workers on Monday decided to pull out of Eastern Ghouta after offloading 32 of the 46 trucks in the convoy.
Nearly half of the food carried on the convoy could not be delivered and part of the medical and health supplies were removed from the trucks by the Syrian authorities, the UN said.
Guterres “calls on all parties to immediately allow safe and unimpeded access for further convoys to deliver critical supplies to hundreds of thousands of people in desperate need,” said the statement.
His appeal came ahead of a Security Council meeting called by Britain and France to discuss the failure of a cease-fire in Syria to take hold, 10 days after the top UN body demanded the truce.
Backed by Russia, Syria’s ally, the council unanimously adopted on February 24 a resolution demanding the 30-day cessation of hostilities to allow deliveries of humanitarian aid and evacuations of the sick and wounded.
Air strikes, and artillery and rocket fire on the rebel-held enclave near the capital Damascus have killed hundreds and devastated residential areas since they began on February 18.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 800 civilians — including at least 177 children — have been killed since Russia-backed Syrian forces launched an assault on the besieged enclave on February 18.
 


Israel envoy summoned over ‘intrusion’ at French cultural center

Updated 20 min 45 sec ago
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Israel envoy summoned over ‘intrusion’ at French cultural center

  • police entered the building Thursday to cancel an event with a women’s group which Israel claims is sponsored or financed by the Palestinian Authority
  • Palestinians who were to participate in the event said the allegation was false

PARIS: France’s foreign ministry said Friday that it had summoned the Israeli government’s representative in Paris over what it called an “intrusion” by Israeli forces at its cultural center in Jerusalem.
In a rare move, police entered the building Thursday to cancel an event with a women’s group which Israel claims is sponsored or financed by the Palestinian Authority.
A diplomatic source said France’s consul general had immediately protested the police’s entry to the center in east Jerusalem, which Israel has annexed in a move not recognized by the international community.
“Such actions are a serious and unacceptable infringement to the functioning of our cultural network in Jerusalem,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.
It said the Israeli charge d’affaires had been called to meet with French officials for “necessary clarifications.”
“France intends to maintain and develop its deep and longstanding relations with Palestinian civil society,” it added.
The French consulate could not confirm Thursday if the women’s association was indeed financed by the Palestinian Authority — Israel considers all PA activities in Jerusalem illegal.
But Palestinians who were to participate in the event said the allegation was false.
“It was an event related to Mother’s Day” and to sell crafts made by women from Jerusalem, said one of the women who was to participate, declining to give her name.
Similar events occur on a near-monthly basis, she said.