Humanitarian Chief, Briefing Security Council, Describes Savagery in Syria, Urging Members to Set Aside Differences

SC/11911
28 May 2015
7452nd Meeting (PM)

Humanitarian Chief, Briefing Security Council, Describes Savagery in Syria, Urging Members to Set Aside Differences

Syrian Ambassador:  End Turkish, Qatari, Saudi Terrorist Alliance

Syria’s descent into “deeper depths of despair” over the past four years had surpassed what even the most pessimistic observers thought possible, the top United Nations humanitarian official told the Security Council today, urging the 15-member body to set aside its political differences and prevent the abandonment of Syrians to further hopelessness.

Delivering her final briefing to the Council as Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos said the situation throughout the country was, by any measure, extremely grave and deteriorating day by day.  “In the past weeks, there were more heinous acts:  innocent men, women and children killed and maimed; displaced; and subjected to a savagery that no human should have to endure,” she told the meeting that was also addressed by the representative of Syria, Bashar Ja’afari.

In February last year, she noted, the Council had come together to adopt resolution 2139 (2014) demanding that the parties end the violence, comply with international law and ensure that obligations to facilitate humanitarian access to people in need were met. Yet, for the past 15 months, the Secretary-General had systematically reported on the continued non-compliance with those demands.

While the cross-border deliveries enabled by resolutions 2165 (2014) and 2191 (2014) had allowed the United Nations to extend its reach and complement the enormous efforts of non-government partners, she said, the parties to the conflict had ignored practically all aspects of the resolutions.  The use of chlorine continued to be reported, killing, injuring and terrorizing civilians.

Indiscriminate attacks, including on schools and hospitals, continued with no regard for the protection of civilians, with some 422,000 people — nearly twice the number as when resolution 2139 (2014) was adopted — under siege. “If I had reported this at the beginning of the conflict, I am sure that Council members would not have believed it possible.  Today, we take it for granted.”

She said the United Nations and its partners were not able to reach any besieged locations in April, as people tried to survive without the basic necessities of life, such as water and electricity.  The Government’s introduction of new rules and regulations resulted in delays and distractions.

The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant/Sham (ISIL/ISIS) advance brought new depths of depravity to Syria with indiscriminate killing and maiming, raping and destroying, she said, noting that, today, more than 12.2 million people were in urgent need of humanitarian assistance — an increase of almost a third compared to when resolution 2139 (2014) was adopted.  An additional 540,000 people had been displaced this year alone, adding to the 7.6 million displaced.  Another nearly 4 million had sought refuge in neighbouring countries, placing them under unbearable pressures.  Desperation meant that more and more people were prepared to make the perilous journey to Europe by sea.

The Council could demonstrate its leadership and uphold its responsibility by ensuring the protection of civilians, adherence by the parties to the warring parties to their international legal obligations to facilitate humanitarian access; and bringing an end to the sieges that collectively punished people.  The Council should also consider all possible avenues to ensure accountability; step up financial support to humanitarian response efforts; and respect the non-political nature of humanitarian aid, providing those workers the space they needed to carry out their work free from political pressure.

There were no easy answers or quick fixes, she said, stressing that the difficult could not be allowed to prevent the world from upholding its responsibility for the sake of Syria and its future generations.

Mr. Ja’afari said that he had repeatedly maintained that the humanitarian crisis in his country could not be ended without dealing with its root — foreign terrorism — and through a Syrian political process.  Assisting this region or that would not end the suffering, though it was important to provide sustenance to the citizenry.  International action had not been able to stem the crisis.  On the contrary, armed terrorists were now emboldened to attack more areas.

New assistance to terrorist groups was the mainstay of much of what had been offered by certain members of the international community, he said.  Taking seriously Council resolutions on counter-terrorism would put an end to what he called the “Turkish, Qatari and Saudi terrorist alliance”.  He strongly criticized military aid to what he called the moderate Syrian armed opposition, and asked what that could possibly mean, especially when many of them were foreigners.  He stressed that there was no moderate terrorism.

He said that the most recent United Nations reports on his country contained many errors, with its information based on non-credible sources.  It portrayed the Government’s use of barrel bombs as a fact, without input from his Government.  The report did not mention that terrorists in Syria were receiving arms transported by trucks bearing the United Nations symbol.

Some countries, it was evident, wanted to use the humanitarian crisis in Syria for their own purpose, he said.  His country had cooperated with the United Nations extensively; in fact, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs was only able to provide some 30 per cent of what was authorized by his Government. 

The meeting began at 3:07 p.m. and ended at 3:35 p.m.

For information media. Not an official record.