UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Russia and China joined other U.N. Security Council members on Thursday in expressing “deep disappointment” at Syria’s failure to allow the U.N. humanitarian aid chief Valerie Amos to visit the country and urged that she be allowed in immediately.
The 15 nations on the council also said in a unanimously agreed statement that they “deplore the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation” in Syria, where the United Nations says security forces have killed more than 7,500 civilians during an 11-month government crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.
“The members of the Security Council call upon the Syrian authorities to grant (Amos) immediate and unhindered access,” said the statement, which was read to reporters by British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant.
The statement also urged Damascus to grant “full and unimpeded access of humanitarian personnel to all populations in need of assistance.”
Britain holds the rotating Security Council presidency this month.
It is the first statement on Syria from the council, which has been deadlocked on the issue for months, since August 2011, when it rebuked Damascus in a so-called “presidential statement” for the escalating violence there.
Since that time, Russia and China have twice vetoed Security Council resolutions condemning Damascus and calling for an end to the violence, saying Western and Arab nations are pushing for Libya-style “regime change” in Syria.
The agreed statement was softened from an earlier draft in response to concerns raised by Russia, China and Pakistan, diplomats told Reuters.
The original version would have had the council “demand” that Syria allow Amos into the country to assess humanitarian needs in besieged Syrian towns like Homs and Hama, according to a draft seen by Reuters. The word “demand” was revised to “call upon.”
Council diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that Russia, China and Pakistan argued that the council should not be issuing such demands to a sovereign country.
Editing by Mohammad Zargham