Islamic organization eager to extend humanitarian aid to Syria

March 08, 2012, Thursday/ 16:52:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN WITH WIRES

An offer by the Department of Humanitarian Affairs of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to provide humanitarian assistance to victims of violence in Syria has been rejected by regime authorities, who have told the OIC that there is "no humanitarian crisis in Syria, and therefore, there is no need for help."

Speaking with the Anatolia news agency on Wednesday, OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu said the organization is bound by the decision of the Syrian administration to admit an OIC humanitarian mission, but expressed his hopes that the group might be given permission in the future to extend badly needed assistance to Syria's people.

The 57-member coalition of Islamic states is the latest organization to have proposals for a Syrian aid mission rejected by authorities in Damascus, who turned down UN and Red Cross offers to provide an aid mission to areas devastated in the year-long conflict between Damascus and a growing protest movement.

Nevertheless, İhsanoğlu was optimistic in comments to Anatolia that the Syrian administration may soon allow the admission of a limited mission by the OIC, which the secretary-general said has stressed its wishes to aid those in need and its extensive record of charitable work in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The OIC has also made extensive efforts to aid the conflict's growing population of refugees in southern Turkey and eastern Lebanon. On March 4, the group met with World Health Organization (WHO) officials in Cairo to discuss a stepped up refugee aid program and has announced plans to create a special program that would send doctors and medical supplies to refugees in remote regions of Lebanon.

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