Aleppo pounded as Jolie visits Syria refugees | Pakistan Today

Aleppo pounded as Jolie visits Syria refugees

Syrian troops on Tuesday pounded Aleppo to thwart a rebel advance in Syria’s second city, activists said, as Hollywood star Angelina Jolie visited a Jordanian camp for refugees from the conflict.
At least 25 civilians and one rebel were reportedly killed in the latest violence as peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi was to meet Syrian opposition figures in Cairo ahead of a planned visit to Damascus, his spokesman said.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague was also in Cairo for talks with President Mohamed Morsi on Syria, amid a diplomatic flurry in the Egyptian capital where Syrian neighbours also gathered to discuss the conflict.
Brahimi would meet “representatives of the Syrian opposition as well as activists and Syrian intellectuals,” his spokesman Ahmad Fawzi told AFP.
The envoy began on Monday what he called a “very difficult” mission to bring peace to Syria, where nearly 18 months of conflict has killed more than 27,000 people according to a watchdog, and over 20,000 according to the UN.
“I realise it’s a very difficult mission, but I think it is not my right to refuse to give whatever assistance I can to the Syrian people,” Brahimi said in Cairo, adding he planned on going to Damascus within a “few days.”
Syria’s pro-government newspaper Al-Watan, quoting a “private” source, said that Brahimi would travel Saturday to Damascus, where the UN-Arab League envoy said he expected to meet President Bashar al-Assad and civil society figures. A day after nearly 140 people were reportedly killed across Syria, the UN refugee agency said the number of refugees fleeing nearly 18 months of violence has reached more than 250,000.
UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards told reporters the humanitarian problems sparked by the conflict is “our biggest crisis.”
“Latest figures show that more than a quarter of a million Syrian refugees (253,106 people) have now been registered in the surrounding region, or are awaiting registration,” Edwards said.
“The complexity of the crisis is one of the aspects which sets it apart and the speed with which people have fled Syria.” The plight of the refugees was again under the spotlight on Tuesday as Oscar-winning actress Jolie told a joint news conference at the UN-run Zaatari camp in northern Jordan, flanked by High Commissioner Antonio Guterres.
“We encourage the international community to do everything they can to support these refugees, and there is much to be done,” Jolie told a joint news conference at Zaatari refugee camp, 85 kilometres (53 miles) north of Amman in a desert area near the border with Syria.
“It has been a very heavy experience,” she said of her tour of the camp. It is very emotional to be with people who are wondering who is on their side.”
Guterres also appealed to the international community to “help us and to help the Jordanian government… in order to be able to massively invest in improving the living conditions of refugees in this camp… please help us.”
Syria’s neighbours who have sheltered refugees have been pleading for funds and Jordan says it needs $700 million in international aid to cope with the influx.
— Homs hospitals ‘overwhelmed with patients’ —
The situation of people displaced within Syria also came to the front on Tuesday as a network of activists reported that one refuge centre was pounded in Aleppo province.
In the town of As-Safira, “mortar fire from an air defence battalion targeted residential buildings and a school, where many refugees from disaster-stricken areas sought refuge and shelter,” the Local Coordination Committees reported.
The Observatory said it was unable to immediately confirm the report.
The United Nations says more than 1.2 million Syrians, over half of them children, have become internally displaced.
The World Health Organization said it was seeking to reinforce its activities in Homs, where hospitals were “overwhelmed with patients”, according to spokesman Tarik Jasarevic.

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