United Nations emergency relief coordinator Valerie Amos arrived in Syria on Tuesday at the start of a three-day regional trip to discuss humanitarian aid for Syrian civilians trapped or displaced by the fighting, a statement said.
Amos, who entered Syria on a land convoy from Lebanon, is scheduled to meet Syrian authorities including deputy foreign minister Faisal Mekdad.
She will also meet humanitarian partners including the local Red Crescent as well as families affected by the conflict, at the start of a three-day visit to both Syria and Lebanon, her office said in a statement.
“They crossed the border and were welcomed by officials from the ministry of foreign affairs,” a spokesman from her office told Reuters.
The visit “aims to draw attention to the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Syria and the impact of the conflict on people either remaining in Syria and who have fled to other countries, including Lebanon,” the UN office for the coordination of humanitarian affairs (OCHA) said.
While in Syria, Amos is expected to discuss ways of “urgently scaling-up relief efforts and reducing the suffering of civilians caught up in the fighting with the Syrian authorities, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and other humanitarian partners.”
In Lebanon, Amos, the under-secretary general for humanitarian affairs, will meet families who have fled from Syria and liaise with the government and humanitarian agencies.
Two million people are now estimated to have been affected by the Syria crisis and more than one million are internally displaced as fighting continues in Damascus, Aleppo and other cities, OCHA said.
More than 140,000 people have fled the violence and crossed into Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq, according to the U.N. agency, many of them living in tent camps on the borders.
At least 21,000 people have been killed across Syria since the anti-regime revolt broke out in March 2011, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.