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Population of hard-to-reach Syrians hits 5 million: UN

Some five million Syrians now live in besieged or difficult-to-reach areas, nearly a million more than previously estimated, UN emergency relief co-ordinator Stephen O'Brien said Thursday (June 23rd).

The UN representative attributed the spike to heightened insecurity in parts of Aleppo, al-Raqa and al-Hasakeh that has constrained access to those regions, AFP reported.

O'Brien told the Security Council the UN hopes to deliver aid convoys to 1.2 million civilians in 35 priority zones in July, but reiterated that Syrian authorities have hindered those efforts by limiting access and obstructing deliveries.

"The realities of the ongoing conflict and the continued interference and intransigence of the parties to the conflict present serious challenges to our ability" to deliver aid, O'Brien said.

He urged the 15 Security Council members to back UN humanitarian access requests to ensure full approval "without any conditions".

Since January, UN aid convoys have reached 334,150 of the estimated 590,000 besieged Syrians.

Meanwhile, the UN said Thursday it would begin flying desperately-needed aid from Damascus to the north-eastern Syrian city of Qamishli, which has been inaccessible by domestic roads for more than two years.

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