As a “nightmare of violence and destruction” continued without end in Syria, it was crucial for humanitarian workers to use every route, across borders and conflict lines, to deliver live-saving aid, a top United Nations humanitarian official told the Security Council this morning.
“Given the fluid and dynamic nature of the conflict in Syria, it is crucial for UN agencies to be able to use any and every route, across borders and conflict lines, to reach those who require assistance,” Kyung-Wha Kang, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator said in the meeting, one of a monthly series following up the resolutions demanding humanitarian access in Syria. The meeting was also addressed by Syria’s delegate, Bashar Ja’afari.
Ms. Kang said that the humanitarian community continued to look to the Council to press for a political solution to the nightmare, as the parties “continue to violate human rights and international humanitarian law with impunity, killing and torturing civilians, blocking humanitarian access, destroying and besieging communities”. She decried the continued use of barrel bombs by the Government, as well as attacks on medical facilities.
Some 422,000 civilians suffered in besieged areas, she said. Some assistance was delivered to Government-besieged Eastern Ghouta during April and May and some was airlifted into neighbourhoods of Deir ez Zor, beset by the forces of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
In total, she said, aid workers were only reaching around 34 per cent of hard-to-reach and beleaguered areas each month. She called on the Government to continue progress in approving access to some locations and allow rapid, unimpeded and sustainable access to all areas. Noting what she called the Government’s quick approvals of a number of short-term visas for necessary humanitarian staff, she expressed hope that the trend would continue.
She said that, despite the extremely challenging environment, humanitarian agencies were reaching millions each month, with the World Food Programme (WFP) feeding approximately 4.1 million, the World Health Organization (WHO) delivering medicines and supplies to around 2.7 million and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reaching 2.2 million with water, sanitation, education and other support.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) continued to provide more than 240,000 people with core relief and protection and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) supported some 480,000 people, she said. All was complemented by the programmes of non-governmental organizations, which had reached over 1 million people in May.
In addition to access difficulties, however, adequate resources for humanitarian aid had been less than forthcoming, she said. Only a quarter of the current humanitarian appeal had been funded and food assistance across the region was in jeopardy. Since January, WFP had to reduce food provision by 30 per cent and more cuts were anticipated in the next three months.
In his statement, Mr. Ja’afari expressed concern that there were still some Member States who dealt with the painful humanitarian situation in Syria “in isolation of the foreign interventionist political, economic and military background”. It was clear that many of those lamenting the miseries of the Syrian people were in reality the ones causing them. He said that denying Syria’s role in protecting its people and maintaining its sovereignty and territorial integrity was unacceptable, as was refusing coordination with the Syrian Government in combating terrorism and providing humanitarian assistance.
He condemned support for foreign terrorists and mercenaries by Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other countries, citing leaks through WikiLeaks as additional proof. The United States spent a billion dollars annually on training terrorists in camps in some of those countries and Europe. Such sponsors of terrorism, meanwhile, tried to link every heinous action on Earth to the Syrian State, fabricating false witnesses and organizing conferences to tarnish Syria’s image.
The Syrian Government, he said, was ready to cooperate with all sincere stakeholders in the Council to improve the humanitarian situation in the country. In addition, by fighting foreign terrorists, the Syrian army was protecting innocent people, he maintained, pledging that the war against terrorism would continue.
The meeting began at 10:39 a.m. and ended at 11:07 a.m.