By Stephanie Nebehay
GENEVA, March 8 (Reuters) - The United Nations said on Thursday it was readying food stocks for 1.5 million people in Syria as part of a 90-day emergency contingency plan to help civilians deprived of basic supplies after nearly a year of conflict.
"More needs to be done," John Ging of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA) told a one-day Syrian Humanitarian Forum in Geneva.
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"The U.N. side of the humanitarian community is looking at the process of additional food stocks pre-positioned to target 1.5 million people," said Ging, who is chairing the meeting.
He described the situation in Syria as "very fluid" and said the capacity of Syrian health services to provide trauma care and medicines must be restored. Water systems damaged during shelling of residential areas must be repaired.
The world body, which has been shut out of Syria, has drawn up an initial three-month aid plan of $105 million which is likely to translate into a funding appeal to donors, diplomats and U.N. sources told Reuters.
The U.N. estimates more than 7,500 civilians have died during Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's crackdown on a popular uprising.
Top U.N. aid official Valerie Amos is midway through a three-day visit to Syria, where she made a brief visit on Wednesday to the shattered Baba Amr district of Homs.
The International Committee of the Red Cross, the only international agency to deploy aid workers in Syria, is also taking part in the meeting.
"The political process is getting very complicated but the Syrian people cannot wait. Humanitarians have to step in," Claus Sorensen, director general of the European Union's aid department ECHO, told the talks.
"The purpose of this meeting is to give an answer to the immediate suffering...It is about getting access, access and access -- that is a precondition for actually providing any type of relief," he said.
Faysal Khabbaz Hamoui, Syria's ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva, took the floor to reject the Geneva forum as having been convened "contrary to the U.N. Charter".
"Syria is not undergoing a humanitarian crisis," Hamoui said, accusing some media of trying to "prepare the ground for foreign mlitary intervention".
"Today we are exporting products of industry and agriculture, and livestock as well to most countries of the region," he added.
The United States, which is represented by deputy assistant secretary of state Kelly T. Clements, said in a statement issued before the talks began: "The United States continues to call on the regime of President Bashar al-Assad to allow safe access to humanitarian groups to provide life-saving assistance."
Dr. Sima Bahous, assistant secretary-general of the League of Arab States, told the meeting: "We call on all parties to cease violence and killing immediately and ensure delivery of humanitarian assistance to all areas."
Kofi Annan, the U.N.-Arab League special envoy on Syria, said he would urge President Assad and his foes to stop fighting and seek a political solution. (Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Louise Ireland and Robert Woodward)
07/13/2012 1:00 PM EDT
Car Bomb In Damascus
Syrian policemen inspect the site of a car bomb explosion on Mazzeh highway in the capital Damascus on July 13, 2012. AFP PHOTO/STR (Photo credit should read -/AFP/GettyImages)
07/13/2012 12:00 PM EDT
Susan Rice Condemns Killings
U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice tweets:
@ AmbassadorRice :
#Syria regime turned artillery, tanks and helicopters on its own men & women. It unleashed knife-wielding shabiha gangs on its own children.
07/13/2012 11:58 AM EDT
Russia Condemns Massacre
Russia says international envoy Kofi Annan will visit Moscow on Monday to discuss the ongoing crisis in Syria. Russia also called for an inquiry into an alleged massacre that took place in the village of Tramseh on Thursday. "We have no doubt that this wrongdoing serves the interests of those powers that are not seeking peace but persistently seek to sow the seeds of interconfessional and civilian conflict on Syrian soil," Russia's foreign ministry said in a statement, according to Reuters. Moscow did not apportion blame for the killings.
Read more on Reuters.com.
07/13/2012 11:55 AM EDT
Footage Of Massacre Aftermath (WARNING: VIDEO CONTAINS DISTURBING IMAGES)
The Associated Press obtained a video that purports to show the aftermath of an alleged massacre in the village of Tramseh, near Hama.
07/13/2012 9:34 AM EDT
How Do Syrian Fighters Get Their Arms?
How do Syria's fighters get their arms? An overview put together by Reuters explains that there are three gateways to the country -- Lebanon, Turkey, and Iraq.
Syrian rebels are smuggling small arms into Syria through a network of land and sea routes involving cargo ships and trucks moving through Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq, maritime intelligence and Free Syrian Army (FSA) officers say.
Western and regional powers deny any suggestion they are involved in gun running. Their interest in the sensitive border region lies rather in screening to ensure powerful weapons such as surface to air missiles do not find their way to Islamist or other militants.
Read the full report here.
07/13/2012 9:10 AM EDT
Activists Report New Massacre (WARNING: GRAPHIC PHOTOS)
This citizen journalism image made from video provided by Shaam News Network SNN, purports to show a victim wounded by violence that, according to anti-regime activists, was carried out by government forces in Tremseh, Syria about 15 kilometers (nine miles) northwest of the central city of Hama, Thursday, July 12, 2012. The accounts, some of which claim more than 200 people were killed in the violence Thursday, could not be independently confirmed, but would mark the latest in a string of brutal offensives by Syrian forces attempting to crush the rebellion. (AP Photo/Shaam News Network, SNN)
This citizen journalism image made from video provided by Shaam News Network SNN, purports to show a man mourning a victim killed by violence that, according to anti-regime activists, was carried out by government forces in Tremseh, Syria about 15 kilometers (nine miles) northwest of the central city of Hama, Thursday, July 12, 2012. (AP Photo/Shaam News Network, SNN)
07/12/2012 6:50 PM EDT
Hama Revolutionary Council: More Than 220 Killed
According to the Hama Revolutionary Council, a Syrian opposition group, more than 220 people have been killed in a new alleged massacre in Taramseh. Earlier reports said more than 100 people were killed. "More than 220 people fell today in Taramseh," the Council said in a statement. "They died from bombardment by tanks and helicopters, artillery shelling and summary executions."
Fadi Sameh, an opposition activist from Taramseh, told Reuters he had left the town before the reported massacre but was in touch with residents. "It appears that Alawite militiamen from surrounding villages descended on Taramseh after its rebel defenders pulled out, and started killing the people. Whole houses have been destroyed and burned from the shelling," Sameh claimed.
Read more on Reuters.com.
07/12/2012 6:17 PM EDT
Syrian State TV: 'Large Numbers Of Terrorists Killed'
Syrian activist Rami Jarrah tweets that Syrian State TV has confirmed deaths in Tremseh. "Terrorists" is often the term used by the Syrian regime for opposition forces.
@ AlexanderPageSY :
Syrian State TV: clashes between security apparatus & terrorists in #Tremseh of #Hama leaves large numbers of terrorists killed #Syria
07/12/2012 5:36 PM EDT
Update: Death Toll In New Massacre Reportedly More Than 200
@ Reuters :
UPDATE: DEATH TOLL IN SYRIAN FORCES' ATTACK ON VILLAGE IN SYRIA'S HAMA REGION IS MORE THAN 200, MOSTLY CIVILIANS - OPPOSITION ACTIVISTS