Syria Crisis: “Situation for millions of desperate people has not improved,” says UN Humanitarian Chief
UN Humanitarian Chief Valerie Amos today told the Security Council that despite the adoption of its resolution one month ago on humanitarian access in Syria, “the situation for millions of desperate people has not improved.”
“Conflict and violence have intensified over the past four weeks, with many people killed and injured. Since 22 February some 300 cases of sexual violence have been recorded in Damascus and Rural Damascus alone,” added Ms. Amos.
The Council’s latest resolution on Syria adopted in February came just weeks before the crisis entered its fourth year. It demanded that all parties to the conflict allow delivery of humanitarian assistance and enable the rapid, safe and unhindered evacuation of all civilians wanting to leave conflict areas. It also urged all parties to respect the principle of humanitarian neutrality.
“The Council’s resolution was very clear and the rules of International Humanitarian Law are also very clear,” said Ms. Amos. “The continued withholding of consent to cross-border or cross-line relief operations, particularly of commodities privileged throughout the Geneva Conventions - like food, water, medical treatment and supplies, or shelter - is arbitrary and unjustified.”
Need for “significant step-change”
Last week, the first UN cross-border convoy - eight trucks carrying essential relief supplies - crossed into Syria from Turkey under the provisions of resolution 2139. The trucks carried food for 50,000 people, medicines and household items such as blankets and clothing for over 60,000 people in al-Hassakeh.
The humanitarian situation remains bleak despite the progress, said Ms. Amos, adding that it will continue to be so “unless we are granted full and unhindered access, through the most efficient and direct means.”
“We need to see a significant step-change in the speed and scale of humanitarian aid, if we are to save lives and keep pace with the ever-growing needs,” she said, calling on Security Council Members to continue using their influence to facilitate for more access, protect civilians and lift sieges.
“As the situation gets worse, not better, it is the ordinary men, women and children of Syria who continue to bear the brunt of this conflict, regardless of who they are, where they are from, or their religious beliefs.”