Friday 2 March 2012

Syria recovers bodies of Colvin and Ochlik

State-run Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) says the Syrian Army has today disinterred the bodies of two foreign journalists -- Marie Colvin of the United States and Javier Espinosa of Spain -- and French photographer Remi Ochlik after storming the Baba Amr district of Homs on Thursday.
Colvin and Ochlik were killed in the army’s mortar attacks on the neighborhood last week. But Espinosa is alive and tweeting (presumably from Beirut), “SANA mistake about my death can be based in my computer. I left everything on the spot when I had to run for my life.”
SANA said “competent authorities at Baba Amr” exhumed the bodies “following humanitarian-motivated strenuous efforts of search and follow up” after “foreign-backed armed terrorists” were flushed out of the area.
A foreign ministry source quoted by SANA said the bodies are to be transferred to a Damascus hospital for “DNA analysis, to be matched with DNA received from the victims respective countries, before being handed over to the embassies of Poland (representing U.S. interests in Syria), France and Spain the presence of Syrian Red Crescent and International Red Cross representatives.
The source offered “Syria’s condolences to the families of the three journalists,” hoping “foreigners would avoid entering the country illegally” and going to terrorist-controlled areas.
In its first statement on Syria in seven months, the UN Security Council yesterday deplored the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation in Syria and called on the government to grant UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos "immediate and unhindered access.
Syria’s Champress today quotes a Syrian foreign ministry spokesman as saying, “We were surprised by Valerie Amos’ arrival in the region and her request to travel to Syria on a date that did not suit us. We are willing to consult with her on a mutually convenient date for her visit to Damascus.”
The Security Council press statement required agreement of all 15 Council members, including Russia and China, who vetoed two previous Syria resolutions.
Council President Mark Lyall Grant said, "The power of the statement is that it has all 15 members of the Security Council supporting it."
Full text of the press statement:
The members of the Security Council express their deep disappointment that the Syrian Government did not grant Ms. Valerie Amos, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, authorization to visit Syria in a timely manner, despite repeated requests and intense diplomatic contacts aimed at securing Syrian approval.  The members of the Security Council call upon the Syrian authorities to grant the coordinator immediate and unhindered access.
The members of the Security Council deplore the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation, in particular the growing number of affected civilians, the lack of safe access to adequate medical services, and food shortages, particularly in areas affected by fighting and violence such as Homs, Hama, Deraa and Idlib. 
The members of the Security Council call upon the Syrian authorities to allow immediate, full and unimpeded access of humanitarian personnel to all populations in need of assistance, in accordance with international law and guiding principles of humanitarian assistance.  They call upon all parties in Syria, in particular the Syrian authorities, to cooperate fully with the United Nations and relevant humanitarian organizations to facilitate the provision of humanitarian assistance and allow evacuation of the wounded from affected areas.