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UN proposes action to aid Syrians

The United Nations is proposing wide-ranging actions to protect civilians caught in Syria's conflict and deliver aid to millions in desperate need.

UN humanitarian chief Baroness Amos said in a document circulated to the Security Council there should be a public commitment by the government and opposition to protect civilians and those no longer engaged in hostilities, including the sick, wounded and detained.

She said all parties should also make commitments to avoid establishing military positions in populated areas, to give advance notification of military offensives, to ensure the safe passage of humanitarian convoys on designated routes including across front lines, and to institute "humanitarian pauses" to get aid to the most affected areas.

The Security Council is deeply divided over Syria, with Russia and China vetoing three Western-backed resolutions aimed at pressuring President Bashar Assad to halt the violence.

But council members have been quietly discussing a possible UN resolution focusing on the growing humanitarian crisis in Syria and the spillover into neighbouring Jordan, Syria, Turkey and Iraq.

Baroness Amos said last month that at least 6.8 million Syrians require urgent humanitarian assistance and she accused the government and opposition of "systematically and in many cases deliberately" failing in their obligation to protect civilians.

UN refugee chief Antonio Guterres said two-thirds of the nearly 1.8 million Syrian refugees known to the agency have fled since the beginning of 2013, an average of over 6,000 daily.

"There is a consensus among UN agencies that a genuine political process is urgently needed to avert a further deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Syria and in neighbouring countries," Baroness Amos said in the Security Council document.

In the meantime, she proposed 30 measures that could be taken to address current humanitarian challenges in Syria and neighbouring countries.

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