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On Syria, EU's Georgieva Says Delay of Int'l Staff "Not Black & White"

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 1 -- When the European Union's Humanitarian Affairs Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva took media questions on Tuesday, her focus was on Syria. Inner City Press asked her to confirm what it had already reported on July 23, that international aid staff from five countries -- two of them in the EU -- have been blocked.

  Georgieva said there have been delays, yes, but called it "not black and white." Other Inner City Press sources said the same, that while international staff from France, the UK, US, Canada and Australia have been blocked or delays, others from these countries have gotten in.

  While sources told Inner City Press the number of international staff, two weeks ago, was 62, Georgieva said there are 80 international aid staff in Syria. She said she disfavors the use of so-called "humanitarian corridors," wondering if these might be used to bring in weapons.

  Some point to Yemen, where Ali Saleh at least ostensibly stepped down, as a model for "resolving" Syria. Georgieva told a story of visiting armed Houthi leaders with UNHCR chief Gutteres, staring down AK-47s and convincing them of the Geneva conventions. Can this be done with the Free Syrian Army?

  Georgieva said, there are areas Assad does not control, we need to go in and say, you cannot shoot at ambulance or pull people out of them. Yes, that would be good.

Meanwhile after as Inner City Press reported Tuesday morning, France could not yet come through on its statement it would convene a ministerial meeting on Syria as soon as possible after it took over presidency of the Council, it is dialing up a briefing by Herve Ladsous. He is the fourth Frenchman in a row to head UN Peacekeeping so he is always ready.

  Does Ladsous share Georgieva's views on humanitarian corridors?

  Georgieva also answered an Inner City Press' question on the Congo, where Ladsous' DPKO despite spending $1.3 billion a year cannot even access much less protect civilians in portions of North Kivu -- watch this site.

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