UN expects aid deliveries to beseiged Syrians 'without delay'

12th February 2016, Comments 0 comments

The UN said Friday it expected to be able to deliver aid to besieged Syrians "without delay" after world powers agreed a plan to cease hostilities in the war-wracked country.

Amid doubts over the prospect of the ceasefire agreed in Munich, representatives of 17 countries met in Geneva to discuss plans for mass aid distribution that would coincide with a pause in fighting.

A statement from the UN's Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura's office said guaranteed access from the warring sides to Syria's besieged areas was the key first step.

"We expect to get such access without delay," de Mistura's senior advisor Jan Egeland said in the statement.

"We really hope for a good meeting here," Egeland told journalists before the discussions began.

"We have waited long for this," he said referring to the apparent breakthrough in Munich reached by the International Syria Support Group (ISSG).

The ISSG set up two task forces as part of the deal.

One was aimed at securing a durable end to the violence and the other charged with overseeing the delivery of aid.

Friday's Geneva meet was the first gathering of the aid taskforce.

The UN has said that only around a dozen of 116 access requests to reach Syrians in need have been granted.

De Mistura's statement reiterated the Munich agreement's assertion that sustained aid delivery should begin this week.

Meanwhile, questions were growing about how realistic the Munich deal was, as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad vowed in an interview with AFP to retake the entire country, warning it could take a "long time".

© 2016 AFP

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