UN Humanitarian Chief ‘Horrified’ Over Syria Destruction

March 13, 2012 Updated: March 15, 2012

The United Nations humanitarian chief, Valerie Amos, said she was shocked over what she had witnessed in Syria last week, again calling on President Bashar Assad’s regime to allow unfettered access to humanitarian aid groups.

Amos said she “was horrified by the destruction” she saw in the Homs district of Baba Amr, after it was shelled continuously for three weeks in the Syrian army’s attempts to ferret out army defectors.

“No building was untouched and there was clear evidence of the use of heavy artillery and tanks,” she said, according to a transcript provided by the U.N. Amos is the first outsider Syrian authorities have given access to Homs.

In the shelling, around 50,000 to 60,000 civilians were forced to leave the district. “We need to know what has happened to them; where they are now and what they need. We also need to know where the wounded are and whether they are receiving treatment,” she said, adding that she was not allowed to visit opposition-controlled areas of Homs where many of the displaced fled.

Speaking to both the Syrian government and the rebel Free Syrian Army, Amos called on them not to target civilians or humanitarian workers. “We need to make that point very forcefully to whoever is engaged in the conflict in Syria,” she said.

According to the U.N., there were reports that the Syrian government was shooting at and killing humanitarian workers, but this could not be confirmed, Amos said.

The International Committee of the Red Cross over the past several days gave food and other emergency supplies to a few thousand people who were displaced during the Homs shelling.