World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 


UN Security Council must not fail Syria’s besieged civilians

As many as a quarter of a million civilians in areas under siege around Syria need the UN Security Council to push for unfettered humanitarian access to alleviate their suffering, Amnesty International said today, as the world body considers a draft resolution submitted by Australia, Luxembourg and Jordan.

In one location alone – the Yarmouk camp for Palestinian refugees south of Damascus, in which Syrian nationals also live – the organization has received the names of more than 100 men, women and children who have died during a siege imposed by the Syrian armed forces last July following clashes with armed opposition groups. Starvation, lack of adequate medical care and sniper fire have been the main causes of death.

“The situation for civilians trapped and under siege in a number of locations around Syria is truly dire, with vital food and medical supplies either in short supply or completely lacking,” said José Luis Díaz, Head of Amnesty International’s UN office in New York.

“Time and again, the Security Council has squandered the opportunity to tackle the human rights and humanitarian catastrophe that has unfolded during nearly three years of unrest in Syria.

“Its non-binding ‘Presidential Statement’ on humanitarian access, seen as a small step forward when adopted on 2 October last year, has remained essentially a dead letter. The Council, including Russia and China, must adopt a strong resolution on access and not fail Syria’s besieged civilians now.”

Russia – which along with China has vetoed three Security Council resolutions on Syria in the past two and a half years – has already voiced its opposition to the draft resolution.

As negotiations continue on the draft, the UN’s Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos is expected to brief the Security Council today on developments in implementing the Presidential Statement.

There has been limited progress in allowing the delivery of humanitarian aid to some besieged areas, and amid negotiations to end the siege of Yarmouk hundreds of individuals have been evacuated to hospitals elsewhere in Damascus.

But serious obstacles remain. Even the brief ceasefire allowing the evacuation of civilians from Old Homs collapsed as a UN aid convoy came under attack earlier this week, although it has since been extended.

Yarmouk residents have told Amnesty International that they have had no electricity for a year, are forced to forage under sniper fire for grass to eat and some have resorted to eating cat meat. Local activists have published the names of tens of individuals, including relief workers, who were arrested in the last two weeks when they went to the camp’s main northern checkpoint to assist in the distribution of a small aid delivery. Health workers in the camp have told Amnesty International that only one of Yarmouk’s hospitals continues to partially function but that it has no doctors.

Blockades by Syrian government forces on Moadamiya, Eastern Ghouta and other areas have also left desperate civilians trapped and facing extreme food and medical shortages. Two predominantly Shi’a towns in the Aleppo governorate, Zahraa and Nubl, have also been besieged by armed opposition groups in recent months.

“The increased humanitarian access in a limited number of areas is just a drop in the ocean when compared with the massive civilian suffering across Syria today,” said José Luis Díaz.

“Civilians have been caught in the crossfire and cut off from humanitarian aid for too long. With the Geneva talks between the Syrian government and armed groups faltering, the UN Security Council has no time to lose to ensure adequate humanitarian access is allowed to reach all civilians in need.”

The Syrian government must allow the UN-mandated Commission of Inquiry on Syria access to investigate all human rights violations and abuses, including those amounting to crimes against humanity and war crimes, being committed by all parties to the conflict. It should also allow access to Amnesty International and other human rights organizations.

The organization continues to call for the release of peaceful activists in government detention and civilian hostages being held by armed groups.

AI Index: PRE01/071/2014

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Myanmar Election: UNICEF Urges Prioritisation Of Children

With 99 days to go before Myanmar elections, UNICEF urges candidates make children the clear winner More>>

Liberia Thousands Of Unregistered Children Born During Ebola Crisis

Thousands of unregistered children born in Liberia during Ebola crisis at risk of exploitation – UNICEF More>>

UN Refugee Agency Envoy Angelina Jolie Visits Myanmar

UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie Pitt (left) in Myitkyina township, Kachin State, Myanmar, meeting with some of the 100,000 displaced people who currently live there. Photo: UNHCR/T.Stoddart More>>

As Health Needs Rise In Somalia, Funding Hits New Low

As health needs rise in Somalia, funding hits new low, cutting off 1.5 million from care – UN More>>

Need To End Violence Against Children In Conflict

‘We should be outraged’ more not being done to end violence against children in conflict – UNICEF chief More>>

On Mandela Day, UN Joins Call To Promote Community Service

Nelson Mandela, then Deputy President of the African National Congress of South Africa, raises his fist in the air while addressing the Special Committee Against Apartheid in the General Assembly Hall. UN Photo/P. Sudhakaran More>>

Some $3.2 Billion Needed For Ebola Recovery Efforts

Some $3.2 billion needed for Ebola recovery efforts in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – UN More>>

World Day: UN Spotlights Plight Of Vulnerable Populalations

Syrian refugees fleeing the fighting near the Syrian city of Kobani wait in a holding area before boarding buses in Turkey (September 2014). Photo: UNHCR /I. Prickett More>>

Afghanisatan: Direct Talks Between Government And Taliban

The United Nations Security Council has welcomed the recently held direct talks between Afghan Government and Taliban representatives as a step towards “peace and reconciliation” in the region. More>>

Eradicating World Hunger By 2030

Agriculture workers collect carrots on a farm in Chimaltenango, Guatemala. Photo: World Bank/Maria Fleischmann More>>

Bangladesh: Flood Leads To UN Agency Providing Food Relief

Anwar Hossain unloads cartons of High Energy Biscuits from a pickup truck and transfers them to a distribution center in Kawar Khop union, Ramu upazila, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Photo: WFP/Kamrul Mithon More>>

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
World
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news