Security Council Demands Unhindered Access to Humanitarian Aid for Syria

Inter Press Service

UNITED NATIONS, Feb 23 (IPS) - The 15-member Security Council Saturday unanimously adopted a resolution demanding unhindered access to humanitarian aid for Syria.

After three years of horrific violence, starvation and displacement, millions of Syrians caught up in the ongoing political crisis are expected to get some form of relief – provided both government and rebel forces agree to the demands of the Council.

“This is the worst humanitarian crisis of our generation,” Ambassador Samantha Power, Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations said at the press stakeout, following the adoption.

The new resolution aims to beef up assistance and follow through with provisions that will safe guard people’s lives moving forward.

The resolution calls for access to humanitarian aid for the three million plus civilians trapped in besieged areas. So far, the continuing violence has cost over 100,000 lives.

A paragraph in the resolution demands that, “all parties immediately cease all attacks against civilians, as well as the indiscriminate employment of weapons in populated areas, including shelling and aerial bombardment, such as the use of barrel bombs, and methods of warfare which are of a nature to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering.”

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon echoed those sentiments while addressing the Security Council after the adoption of the resolution, commending its work and adding his own concern for the Syrian people.

“Civilians continue to bear the brunt of the conflict. They are the daily victims of brutal violence and indiscriminate attacks, including the use of heavy weapons, aerial bombings, mortars and car bombs in population areas.” Ban said.

The cooperation of the Syrian authorities and all other armed opposition groups in the implementation process of resolution 2139 is critical in preventing a fall-through or another three years of trauma. The resolution states specifically that all parties cease violent attacks, allow humanitarian workers access to besieged areas, including conflict areas and across border lines.

It also urges member states to act generously and continue to support the humanitarian needs of the Syrian people both in Syria and in neighbouring countries, as well as calls for an end to impunity for violations and abuses of human rights.

Although the passing of the resolution was swift, it is the implementation that will test its mettle, according to diplomats here.

Meanwhile, a coalition of 17 non-profit organisations including Save the Children, World Vision International, Center for Victims of Torture and Islamic Relief Worldwide released a statement urging all parties involved, both inside and outside Syria, to take necessary action to implement the resolution.

“The Security Council’s resolution is a diplomatic breakthrough; it is not yet a humanitarian breakthrough. This will require the swift translation of the Council’s strong, shared words into meaningful action,” the statement read.

The coalition urged the Security Council to follow through with its 30 day check point where the Secretary General will be asked to report on the implementation of the resolution by all parties involved. Thereafter, the council will receive another report from the Secretary General.

In his remarks, Ban said: “This resolution should not have been necessary. Humanitarian assistance is not something to be negotiated; it is something to be allowed by virtue of international law.”