Friday, 4 April 2014

Words alone

Update on United Nations Security Council Resolution 2139

Previous post: Enforce United Nations Security Council Resolution 2139

Text of resolution 2139
United Nations Security Council, 22 February 2014

Report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of Security Council resolution 2139 (2014)
UN Security Council 24 March 2014. Also available here in English and Arabic.
During the reporting period, indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks, including aerial bombings, shelling, mortars and car bombs in populated areas, caused mass civilian death and injuries and forced displacement. Publicly available reports indicate that clashes between government and opposition forces continued in most parts of the Syrian Arab Republic. There were continued reports of artillery shelling and air strikes, including the use of barrel bombs, by government forces. Car bombings and suicide attacks, including against civilian targets, resulted in civilian deaths and injuries. Many such attacks were claimed by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant and the Nusrah Front. Clashes also took place between armed opposition groups and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, mainly in the north. Government-controlled cities and towns, including Damascus, were subject to mortar attacks by armed opposition groups. Reported daily death tolls were on average in excess of 200 people, including civilians.

Syria: UN official cites ‘bleak’ humanitarian situation, urges unhindered access to civilians
UN News Centre, 28 March 2014
The United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator warned the Security Council today that as the Syrian civil war grinds on and millions of desperate people remain cut off from aid, “the humanitarian situation remains bleak, and will continue to be bleak, unless we are granted full and unhindered access, through the most efficient and direct means.”

“I told the Council that 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,” said Valerie Amos, speaking to the press after briefing Council members on Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s latest report on implementation of the key elements of resolution 2139 (2014), which focused on humanitarian access to besieged and hard-to-reach areas, including across conflict lines and across borders, and the expansion of humanitarian relief operations.

Ms. Amos, who is also the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, said while the Council’s resolution had demanded an end to the fighting and enhanced access for aid and relief workers, the situation for desperate civilians had not changed and the violence had only intensified in the four weeks since the text’s adoption, with many people killed and injured.

Moreover, since 22 February, some 300 cases of sexual violence have been recorded in Damascus and Rural Damascus alone. “I am also very concerned that hundreds of thousands of people have been newly displaced from areas like eastern Aleppo and Yabroud in the south – driving them further from the reach of humanitarian assistance,” she added.

Her words echoed the grim picture the Secretary-General painted in his report of the situation on the ground, characterized by indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks, including aerial bombings, shelling, mortars and car bombs in populated areas, causing mass civilian death and injuries and forced displacement. He adds that reported daily death tolls over the past month were on average in excess of 200 people, including civilians.

The report also says heavy fighting was particularly intense in Aleppo, Dar‘a and Rural Damascus governorates. At least 500,000 people have been displaced from the eastern part of the city of Aleppo since late January. Approximately 100,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) are sheltering in camps close to the Turkish border, while some 22,300 people fled to Turkey during the reporting period. In Dar‘a, “fierce fighting between Government forces and armed opposition groups escalated, leaving around 159,000 people displaced as at the end of February,” says the report.

The Secretary-General goes on to note that as the conflict intensifies and fighting
between armed groups increases, more people are slipping out of the reach of humanitarian organizations. Around 3.5 million people are now estimated to be in need of assistance in hard-to-reach areas, an increase of 1 million since the beginning of 2014.

Syria: Defying Security Council on Aid Access
Human Rights Watch, 28 March 2014
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,” said Nadim 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.”

Syria crisis: UN says no aid improvement despite vote
BBC News, 29 March 2014
The UN has said that there has been no humanitarian improvement for millions of Syrians since the Security Council passed a resolution last month to increase aid deliveries.

UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos said that much of the blame lay with President Bashar al-Assad's government.

On Syria, US and UN are all talk and no action
Washington Post editorial, 3 April 2014
It’s been nearly six weeks since the U.N. Security Council passed Resolution 2139, which ordered the regime and rebels to “promptly allow unhindered humanitarian access” and threatened “further steps” in the case of noncompliance.

Since then, according to U.N. humanitarian coordinator Valerie Amos, the war of starvation has worsened. The number of Syrians cut off from international aid has grown since January by 1 million, to 3.5 million. At least 180,000 people are in areas directly blockaded by government troops, which refuse to allow in supplies of food or medicine. In direct contravention of the U.N. resolution, the Assad regime has authorized aid convoys to cross only one of eight border posts identified by U.N. relief coordinators.


The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, called Ms. Amos’s report “harrowing.” She said the Assad government “is the sole reason for the lack of progress in cross-border assistance” that “would allow the U.N. and its partners access to almost 4 million people.” She said: “The Assad regime’s murderous appetite for deploying artillery, ‘barrel bombs’ and airstrikes against civilians . . . is the No. 1 factor driving displacement and the broader humanitarian ­crisis.”

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