UK & World News
UN Unites To Demand Aid Access For All Of Syria
The UN Security Council has unanimously backed a resolution demanding the Syrian regime and opposition allow aid groups access everywhere in the country.
Russia and China - supporters of President Bashar al Assad's government - joined the other members as they insisted food, medicine and other essentials must not be blocked to civilians.
It was the first time the council had united over a resolution on Syria.
It is non-binding and does not threaten sanctions after some opposition from Moscow.
But it does express the 15-nation council's intention to take "further steps" if the resolution is not implemented.
Russia and China, two of the five permanent members, had vetoed three previous resolutions backed by Western nations that would have pressured Mr Assad to end the conflict.
More than 136,000 people have reportedly been killed since protests against the president's rule began in March 2011 and millions are awaiting help in the country.
After the latest vote, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said "humanitarian assistance is not something to be negotiated - it is something to be allowed by virtue of international law".
He added: "Half the country's people need urgent assistance. Host countries need support in caring for more than 2.5 million refugees.
"Some 200,000 people are under siege in government-controlled areas - and 45,000 in opposition-controlled areas."
The resolution was drafted by Australia, Jordan and Luxembourg and had the backing of Britain, France and the United States, the three other permanent members.
Britain's UN Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said: "Today the council has finally shown that whatever its political differences over Syria it was not entirely indifferent to the devastating humanitarian crisis."
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