An urgent call to end the block on vital aid to people in sanctions-crippled Syria has come from Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) amid fears that the country’s humanitarian crisis has reached an extreme.

ACN is demanding changes to allow milk, groceries, warm clothes, medicine and pastoral help to get through to Syria where the United Nations says 60 percent of people are at risk of famine, with inflation rising to nearly 300 percent.

Amid increasing criticism of the sanctions, ACN International President Dr Thomas Heine-Geldern called on Western nations to intervene amid growing concerns of a surge in hunger and disease.

He said that, although ACN is on course to complete nearly 1,000 projects in Syria since the civil war broke out 10 years ago, aid payments are being repeatedly blocked – even though they are permitted under the current sanctions regime.

In an appeal to governments in the US and Europe, Dr Heine-Geldern said: “It is our duty to provide help to the suffering civil population in Syria – and especially to the rapidly dwindling Christian minority.

In their name, I beg you to implement the existing international legal framework, which allows humanitarian exemptions to the embargo.”

Our partners on the ground are offering hope and help, but they face being blocked even on humanitarian and pastoral payments because banks are too afraid to let funds reach Syria even when officially permitted.”