UN Security Council renews call for Abu Akleh killers to be brought to justice

Talking about closing last Syrian aid lifeline ‘a moral abomination’, says UN commission

NEW YORK: As the UN Security Council’s exceptional authorization for the delivery of humanitarian aid through the last remaining border crossing in northwestern Syria expires on July 10, the United Nations Commission of Inquiry United Nations on Syria warned that it would be a “failure of the utmost importance”. if the council did not extend the rescue operation.

“As the country faces its worst economic and humanitarian crisis since the start of the conflict, the international community must preserve the existing and vital cross-border assistance and increase its funding pledges to support this assistance,” said a statement from the Commission. commission, which also expressed concern about what it called a “steady shrinking trajectory in the delivery of cross-border humanitarian aid”.

When international aid deliveries to Syria began in 2014, the Security Council approved four border crossings. In January 2020, permanent member Russia used its veto power to force the closure of all but one, Bab-al-Hawa.

Moscow maintains that international aid operations violate Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Security Council discussions on the issue often prove difficult, with Russia and China constantly insisting that all humanitarian aid deliveries require the consent of the Syrian authorities.

The opposing views of council members last week on the need to expand the cross-border mechanism have raised concerns among aid agencies, as the move has so far ensured access to desperately needed aid to million Syrians since 2014.

“It is a moral abomination that a Security Council resolution was in itself deemed necessary to facilitate cross-border aid in the face of continued violations – by the Syrian government and other parties – of their obligations under the to authorize and facilitate humanitarian assistance for civilians in need,” said Paulo Pinheiro, chair of the UN Commission on Syria.

The July 10 renewal vote comes as humanitarian needs across Syria are at their highest since the war began 11 years ago.

The UN estimates that 14.6 million Syrians now need help. In the war-ravaged country, 12 million people face acute food insecurity, a staggering 51% increase since 2019, amid conflict in Ukraine that has sent food prices soaring and threatened the supply of wheat and other basic products.

In opposition-held northwest Syria, conditions are deteriorating as hostilities continue and the economic crisis worsens. About 4.1 million people, mostly women and children, depend on aid to meet their basic needs.

Cross-border operations authorized by the Security Council allow aid to reach around 2.4 million people every month.

The commission said in its latest report that this lifeline is vital for the people of northwestern Syria, adding that while some of the aid is delivered from inside Syria, these deliveries contain quantities much smaller and insufficient and are exposed to attack along with a dangerous delivery. route that crosses the active front lines.

During its 11 years of investigation into the conflict, the commission has documented that the government and armed groups have repeatedly used humanitarian aid as political bargaining chips, often deliberately withholding it from specific populations, especially those under siege.

The commission also maintains that throughout Syria, staff members of humanitarian organizations are constantly at risk of being harassed, arrested and arbitrarily detained.

Commissioner Hanny Megally said: “The parties to the conflict have consistently failed in their obligation to allow and facilitate the rapid and unhindered passage of humanitarian assistance to civilians in need through Syria. It is unconscionable that the discussion seems to focus on whether to close the last authorized border crossing for aid, rather than how to expand access to lifesaving aid across the country and through all channels. appropriate.

Earlier this month, aid organizations sounded the alarm at an EU-organized Brussels VI conference on Syria.

“Funding for humanitarian aid is simply not enough to meet the needs and protect Syrians at this time,” Pinheiro said.

“The international community cannot abandon the Syrian people now. They have endured 11 years of devastating conflict that has inflicted untold suffering on them. They have never been so impoverished and need our help.

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