Europe

UN agency chiefs urge access for aid to civilians in Syria

  • FILE - This file frame grab from video provided on Sunday, Dec. 25, 2016 by Step News Agency, a Syrian opposition media outlet that is consistent with independent AP reporting, shows smoke rise from the government forces shelling on Wadi Barada, northwest of Damascus, Syria. Opposition activists and Syria's state TV said on Friday, Jan. 13, 2017 that maintenance workers have arrived in the rebel-held valley near Damascus to fix the water facility there, ending a violent standoff that has dried out the capital for weeks. (Step News Agency, via AP, File)

    FILE - This file frame grab from video provided on Sunday, Dec. 25, 2016 by Step News Agency, a Syrian opposition media outlet that is consistent with independent AP reporting, shows smoke rise from the government forces shelling on Wadi Barada, northwest of Damascus, Syria. Opposition activists and Syria's state TV said on Friday, Jan. 13, 2017 that maintenance workers have arrived in the rebel-held valley near Damascus to fix the water facility there, ending a violent standoff that has dried out the capital for weeks. (Step News Agency, via AP, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this still image made from video provided by opposition operated Step News Agency, which is consistent with independent AP reporting, a man views scenes of destruction inside a banquet hall, in Deir Qanoun, Barada Valley, Syria, Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017 .Pro-Syrian government troops shelled a village in a rebel-controlled area near Damascus on Sunday, killing at least 12 civilians and injuring several others who were taking shelter in a banquet hall. (Step News Agency, UGC via AP)

    In this still image made from video provided by opposition operated Step News Agency, which is consistent with independent AP reporting, a man views scenes of destruction inside a banquet hall, in Deir Qanoun, Barada Valley, Syria, Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017 .Pro-Syrian government troops shelled a village in a rebel-controlled area near Damascus on Sunday, killing at least 12 civilians and injuring several others who were taking shelter in a banquet hall. (Step News Agency, UGC via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this still image made from video provided by opposition operated Step News Agency, which is consistent with independent AP reporting, bodies are seen covered with blankets, as blood stains the floor, in a building in Deir Qanoun, Barada Valley, Syria, Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017 .Pro-Syrian government troops shelled a village in a rebel-controlled area near Damascus on Sunday, killing at least 12 civilians and injuring several others who were taking shelter in a banquet hall. (Step News Agency, UGC via AP)

    In this still image made from video provided by opposition operated Step News Agency, which is consistent with independent AP reporting, bodies are seen covered with blankets, as blood stains the floor, in a building in Deir Qanoun, Barada Valley, Syria, Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017 .Pro-Syrian government troops shelled a village in a rebel-controlled area near Damascus on Sunday, killing at least 12 civilians and injuring several others who were taking shelter in a banquet hall. (Step News Agency, UGC via AP)  (The Associated Press)

The heads of major U.N. organizations are calling for access to children and families cut off from humanitarian aid in Syria, saying the world "must not stand silent" even though the high-profile siege of Aleppo is over.

Top officials from the U.N.'s refugee agency, humanitarian aid coordinator OCHA, children's agency UNICEF, the World Food Program and the World Health Organization are urging for "immediate, unconditional and safe access" to those civilians.

They say that up to 700,000 people — nearly half of them children — live in 15 besieged areas of Syria. Many lack "the most basic elements to sustain their lives" and face "continued risk of violence."

The appeal came on Monday from Davos in Switzerland, where business, political and other elites are gathering for the World Economic Forum.