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40% of Syrians in need of assistance: UN aid chief

Published:2013-11-05 14:40:30    

International: Some 9.3 million people in Syria - or about 40% of the population - now need outside assistance, UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos has said.

This figure has risen by 2.5m from the 6.8m total the UN gave in September.

The Syria crisis "continues to deteriorate rapidly and inexorably", Ms Amos told the UN Security Council.

Meanwhile, UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi is due to hold talks with US and Russian diplomats aimed at paving the way for a Syria peace conference.

In Geneva, Mr Brahimi will also meet representatives from the rest of the UN Security Council and Syria's neighbours ahead of the conference planned for later this month.

The Syrian government and opposition groups disagree over how the formal negotiations should be structured: the opposition demands that President Bashar al-Assad should resign, while Damascus says there should be no pre-conditions.

In a separate development, Damascus announced a nationwide vaccination campaign to immunise every Syrian child against polio, measles, mumps and rubella, even in rebel-held territories.

This comes weeks after cases of polio were confirmed in the country for the first time in 14 years. BBC