U.N. Security Council to discuss Syria humanitarian truce

The U.N. Security Council will hold a closed-door meeting on Thursday to discuss an appeal from U.N. aid officials for a month-long humanitarian ceasefire in Syria, diplomats said.

Sweden and Kuwait requested the meeting of the top U.N. body on Wednesday as Syrian government forces continued to shell rebel-held Eastern Ghouta, killing scores in some of the worst bloodshed in years.

The U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Syria, Panos Moumtzis, has called for a month-long ceasefire to allow aid convoys to reach civilians in Eastern Ghouta.

“We are particularly concerned about attacks against civilians and civilian objects, such as hospitals. These attacks further compound civilian suffering, and are leading to large numbers of new displacements,” Swedish Ambassador Olof Skoog said.

Senior U.N. aid official Ursula Mueller told the council last month that the Syrian government blocked all aid convoys to besieged areas in January.

“There has been no progress on cross-line humanitarian access for the U.N. and its partners to besieged and hard-to-reach areas,” the Swedish ambassador said.

“A humanitarian ceasefire would enable the delivery of life-saving assistance and the evacuation of hundreds of critically ill patients urgently needing medical treatment” in Eastern Ghouta, he said.

More than 13.1 million Syrians are in need of humanitarian aid, including 6.1 million who have been displaced within the country.