Plight of Syrians is getting worse, say critics of UN

13 March 2015

reuters

Ongoing: smoke rises from Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus, on Sunday after air strikes by forces loyal to the Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad

Ongoing: smoke rises from Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus, on Sunday after air strikes by forces loyal to the Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad

THE international community is guilty of neglecting human suffering in Syria, suggests a report just released by a group of 21 international humanitarian and human-rights organisations to mark the start of the fifth year of the conflict. The chief failing has been the lack of implementation of the UN Security Council resolutions that sought to protect and improve the plight of civilians there.

The groups, including Norwegian Church Aid, Oxfam, Save the Children, and World Vision International, say that the past year has been the worst of the four thus far for civilian suffering.

The report, Failing Syria, remarks that, despite the adoption in 2014 of three resolutions by the Security Council demanding action to secure protection and assistance for civilians, in reality humanitarian access to large parts of Syria has diminished, and more people are being killed, displaced, and in need of help than ever before. UN resolutions have been "ignored or undermined by the parties to the conflict, members of the Security Council, and other member states", it states.

The 21 organisations back up their allegations with figures. The world, they say, has failed to improve protection for the people of Syria: 76,000 were killed in 2014, out of a total of at least 220,000 deaths over the four years. The passage of aid has not improved: 4.8 million people live in areas defined by the UN as "hard to reach", 2.3 million more than in 2013.

Humanitarian needs have increased: the number of children in need of aid (5.6 million) was up by 31 per cent since 2013; but humanitarian funding has decreased compared with need.

The 21 organisations are calling on UN member states, including the permanent members of the Security Council, to go beyond words and ensure that the resolutions are fully implemented. "Ultimately, the Syrian people need peace," the advocacy director for the World Vision Syria Response, Frances Charles, said. "While a political solution is sought, civilians must be protected and assured access to humanitarian assistance."

She said that the Security Council resolutions "offer a framework to end this suffering, but without action by parties to the conflict and member states these resolutions remain little more than words on a page. Governments must use their influence to push for a genuine political solution and step up their financial aid to meet the growing humanitarian needs."

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