THE prospect of easing civilian suffering in Syria came after
the UN Security Council last weekend passed a unanimous resolution
calling for humanitarian-aid convoys to be allowed access to all
areas of the country.
Russia, Syria's strongest ally, was one of the supporters of the
resolution. The resolution was met with only a guarded response
from the Syrian government.
The UN resolution demands that "all parties, in particular the
Syrian authorities, promptly allow rapid, safe and unhindered
humanitarian access for UN humanitarian agencies and their
implementing partners, including across conflict lines and across
It insists that all parties "immediately cease all attacks
against civilians, as well as the indiscriminate employment of
weapons in populated areas...and methods of warfare which are of a
nature to cause superfluous injury or un-necessary suffering".
Russia also agreed that the UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon,
should report back to the Security Council in 30 days on the
implementation of the resolution, and the UN expressed its "intent
to take further steps in the case of non-compliance".
There is, nevertheless, no agreement among council members on
what those steps might be. Moscow continues to oppose the use of
force against the government.
Mr Ban, while welcoming the resolution, said after the vote that
"Humanitarian assistance is not something to be negotiated: it is
something to be allowed by virtue of international law. Profoundly
shocking to me is that both sides are besieging civilians as a
tactic of war."
The Syrian government said that it would co-operate with the UN
humanitarian initiative, provided that the "root causes" of the
conflict and the humanitarian crisis were tackled. The Assad
authorities insist that they are battling "foreign-backed
terrorism" rather than a revolt against the regime.
They also want the lifting of sanctions before agreeing to the
free flow of aid. So the rare occurrence of a unanimous resolution
on Syria is unlikely to be translated overnight into a significant
easing of civilian suffering.
The UN Children's Fund, the UN Refugee Agency, Mercy Corps, Save
the Children, and World Vision are jointly urging the public to
"voice its outrage at the devastating impact" that the Syria war is
having on children (bit.ly/nolostgeneration).
They are also warning of "the alarming long-term consequences of
a lost generation as the conflict approaches its fourth year".
With nearly 5.5 million children affected inside Syria and in
neighbouring countries, the five organisations warn that "without
an end to the relentless horror and suffering for children, and
without increased investment in their education and protection, an
entire generation could be lost to Syria and the wider region."
The groups involved in the appeal are making five demands: an
end to violence against children; an end to the blocking of
humanitarian assistance; an end to attacks on humanitarian workers
and facilities; a renewed commitment to reconciliation and
tolerance; and more investment in children's education and