Humanitarian Access in Syria Improving Despite ‘Dire’ Funding Situation, Atrocities by Extremists, Security Council Told in Briefing

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Security Council


7252nd Meeting (AM)

Aid access in Syria had begun to improve, but only the end of conflict would relieve the dire situation of civilians there who continued to die by the thousands and were now subjected to extremist outrages, a top United Nations humanitarian official told the Security Council this morning.

"Now, more than ever before, the Council must do all it can to end the conflict and ensure that humanitarian access increases, so that we can reach all those who are desperately in need in Syria," Assistant Secretary-General Kyung-wha Kang said, introducing the Secretary-General's latest report on humanitarian access in Syria (document S/2014/611), which finds that July was the deadliest month since the start of the conflict in March 2011. The report follows up the 14 July adoption of resolution 2165 (20014) authorizing aid delivery across borders and conflict lines in the embattled country.

She said that access across borders had resulted in broader coverage in hard-to-reach areas in Aleppo, Dar'a, Rural Damascus, Idleb, Quineitra and Lattakia Governates. Nine aid shipments had been sent by the United Nations from neighbouring countries, pursuant to the provisions of the resolution, with the full cooperation of the Turkish and Jordanian Governments. Monitoring mechanisms had become operational and the Syrian Government had been notified 48 hours in advance of the crossings, as required.

There had also been new openings in access across conflict lines, she said, with some civilians, notably thousands in rural opposition-held areas of Dar'a, reached in areas that had not been assisted since the beginning of the crisis. She called particular attention to the provision of much-needed medical supplies through cross-line access.

She stressed that much more needed to be done by the parties, however, to ensure that humanitarian access became regular, safe and adequate. She noted that 241,000 people remained under siege conditions, administrative hurdles continued and terrorist groups blocked access to eastern governorates. The Islamic State, or ISIL, and the Al-Nusra Front were, in fact, advancing along main access routes.

Humanitarian workers continued to lose their lives in the line of duty in Syria, she said, noting that 62 had been killed since the conflict began. She also underlined what she called the “particularly dire” funding situation for the humanitarian operation, with only 30 per cent of the requirements for the Syria Humanitarian Assistance Response Plan met and the Refugee Response Plan only 45 per cent funded.

The greatest obstacle to relieving the suffering in Syria, she stressed, was the continuation of the conflict, noting that, this week, the High Commissioner for Human Rights announced that more than 191,000 people had been killed up to April 2014, with the actual toll likely to be much higher. Barrel bombs continued to be dropped by the Government in residential neighbourhoods, and water has been cut off in acts of collective punishment, among other ruthless tactics.

The advance of ISIL, she said, was now taking violence against civilians to a new level as the group committed “horrific atrocities” on those opposing its rule. She relayed reports of the killing of up to 700 members of the Al-Sheitaat tribe, which ISIL accused of apostasy, in the past two weeks, some beheaded and crucified. Women from the tribe were being sold in markets in Iraq, reports also found.

The progress in access during the past month showed that where there was political will, there was a way to improve the situation in Syria, she said. Calling for further Council action, she concluded, “United Nations humanitarian agencies and our partners are doing everything we can to meet needs, but, as we have repeatedly said, the solution to this crisis does not rest with us.”

The meeting started at 10 a.m. and ended at 10:15 a.m.

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