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Syria: Defying Security Council on Aid Access
Human Rights Watch
28 March 2014
(New York) –The Syrian government’s refusal to allow aid to enter the country through border crossings held by opposition groups is undermining aid deliveries to hundreds of thousands of desperate people. The government’s refusal violates the international laws of war.
In a resolution adopted unanimously on February 22, 2014, the UN Security Council demanded 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 borders.”
Since that date, the Syrian government has for the first time allowed assistance to enter the country through Qamishli, a government-held border crossing on its northern border with Turkey. But the government has reiterated its categorical rejection of UN requests to ship aid through other border crossings in Turkey and Jordan that are opposition-held.
“No one should be fooled by Syria’s agreement to open a single border crossing in the north,” saidNadim Houry, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Syria’s refusal to consider allowing aid to enter through border crossings controlled by the opposition means that the situation of the vast majority of people in desperate need of help remains unchanged.”
The opposition-held border crossings are the only effective and secure way to reach the more than 3 million Syrians that the UN reports need assistance in opposition-held areas. While Syria’s position has limited UN humanitarian aid operations through these border crossings, non-governmental organizations have attempted to help fill this gap through aid deliveries in opposition-held areas accessible from Turkey, Jordan, and Iraq, but many needs are not being met.
Aid delivered through the Qamishli crossing is being distributed mostly by the government and government-affiliated organizations, raising concerns about whether it would reach civilians in opposition-held territory.
According to a report to be presented to the Security Council on March 28 by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Syria also continues to block aid to an estimated 175,000 civilians in areas under government siege, while armed opposition forces block aid to an estimated 45,000 civilians in other besieged areas. The secretary-general’s report also estimates that 3.5 million people in 258 “hard to access” places inside Syria urgently need assistance.
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