In efforts to ensure that humanitarian assistance reached people in need throughout Syria by the most direct routes, the Security Council today unanimously adopted resolution 2258 (2015), thus renewing for a period of 12 months two decisions taken in its resolution 2165 (2014) that authorized passage of aid into that country.
According to those stipulations, which were renewed until 10 January 2017, the 15-nation body decided that the United Nations humanitarian agencies and their implementing partners were authorized to use routes across conflict lines in Syria and the border crossings of Bab al-Salam, Bab al-Hawa, Al Yarubiyah and Al-Ramtha, in addition to those already in use, with notification to the Syrian authorities. (See Press Release SC/11708 of 17 December 2014.)
It further decided to establish a monitoring mechanism, under the authority of the United Nations Secretary-General, to monitor, with the consent of the relevant neighbouring countries of Syria, the loading of all humanitarian relief consignments of the United Nations humanitarian agencies and their implementing partners at the relevant United Nations facilities, also with notification to the Syrian authorities.
By the terms of the text, the Council — expressing grave concern at the continuing and growing impediments to the delivery of humanitarian assistance across conflict lines — demanded that all parties, in particular the Syrian authorities, immediately comply with their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law and international human rights law, as well as with all relevant Security Council resolutions, and recalled that some of the violations and abuses committed in Syria might amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The Council further requested the Syrian authorities to expeditiously respond to all requests for cross-line deliveries submitted by the United Nations and their implementing partners, and to give such requests positive consideration.
Vladimir Safronkov (Russian Federation) said that, while he had supported the adoption of the resolution, he regretted that during agreement on the text, certain timely provisions had not been taken on board. He had recommended the distribution of the United Nations mechanism for humanitarian monitoring, called for in resolution 2165 (2014) on all humanitarian cargo going into Syria. It was concerning that the flow of weapons to fighters was not stopping and that foreign fighters continued to join Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), Al-Nusra and other groups.
Indeed, he said, weapons were crossing Syrian borders, including through points where the United Nations was at work. Cross-border points were being used for reasons that were not humanitarian, but sometimes under a humanitarian pretext. “This has to be halted,” he said.
He also pointed out that the preambular section noted the Council’s interest in receiving information on the provision of humanitarian assistance from the Secretariat. The Council, which was responsible for establishing that mechanism, must understand the type of assistance that was crossing into Syria and how much of it was reaching people. He expressed hope that there would be more detailed information on that account in the Secretary-General’s subsequent reports.
Dina Kawar (Jordan) said that her Government attached great importance to the humanitarian situation in Syria, especially as the region must avoid fallout from that crisis. Jordan had submitted resolutions 2239 (2015) and 2165 (2014), which were based on the Secretary-General’s reports for how humanitarian aid could be made available to Syria. Jordan had worked with Spain and New Zealand, as well as the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and others over the past week to allow the United Nations to deliver aid.
The resolution, she said, would allow the United Nations verification and inspection mechanism to operate for at least one year, allowing it to be in a position to ensure that aid, including medical aid, reached remote and besieged areas. In the past, terrorist groups had hampered such delivery. She underscored the importance of the Council’s continued work to ensure aid reached those in need.
Meanwhile, François Dellatre (France) said the resolution sought to facilitate access for humanitarian workers to help those in need. The mechanism, planned for by resolution 2165 (2014) for convoys to cross borders and deliver aid, was more key than ever and it was crucial that it be “shored up”. The Council should remain more mobilized than ever.
Wang Min (China) welcomed the unanimous adoption of resolution 2258 (2015), expressing sympathy with the plight of Syrians. Voicing support for the United Nations humanitarian agency’s coordination of such activities, he called on Syrian parties to honour their obligations and implement the resolution, as well as all other texts, to ensure that cross-border relief could ease people’s suffering. The Council’s adoption of resolution 2254 (2015) had also shown the Council’s important role in fighting terrorism, he stated, expressing hope that all parties would implement it.
Samantha Power (United States), Council President, spoke in her national capacity, underscoring that the humanitarian situation in Syria was dire and getting worse, with 13.5 million people in need of aid, more than half of the pre-war population. The mechanism to deliver aid across conflict lines and borders worked to allow life-saving assistance to reach those in need. It had facilitated aid more effectively, but it faced obstacles, notably as humanitarian access to millions of people had been restricted or denied.
According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the United Nations and its partners had only accessed one third of hard to reach locations, she said. Some 4.5 million people lived in those areas, meaning more than 3 million could not be reached. Until now, the Council had been unable to fix that problem. The situation was catastrophic for 400,000 living in besieged areas. Only 1 in 100 people had received food aid, and an even smaller proportion had received health assistance. The resolution underscored the urgent need for assistance across conflict lines and for authorities to respond to all requests for cross-line deliveries.
Often, the authorities had ignored United Nations requests, and half of those that had been approved had been held up by Syrian security forces, she went on to say. The resolution recalled the obligations of all parties under international humanitarian law, including the need to cease attacks. There had been reports that Russian airstrikes had hit major supply routes, as well as schools and markets. The most effective way to resolve the crisis was through a political solution.
The meeting began at 10:17 a.m. and ended at 10:35 a.m.
The full text of resolution 2258 (2015) reads as follows:
“The Security Council,
“Recalling its resolutions 2042 (2012), 2043 (2012), 2118 (2013), 2139 (2014), 2165 (2014), 2175 (2014), 2191 (2014), 2209 (2015), 2235 (2015) and 2254 (2015), and its Presidential Statements of 3 August 2011 (S/PRST/2011/16), 2 March 2012 (S/PRST/2012/6), 5 April 2012 (S/PRST/2012/10), 2 October 2013 (S/PRST/2013/15), 24 April 2015 (S/PRST/2015/10) and 17 August 2015 (S/PRST/2015/15),
“Reaffirming its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Syria, and to the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations,
“Expressing outrage at the unacceptable and escalating level of violence and the killing of over a quarter of a million people, including tens of thousands of child casualties, as a result of the Syrian conflict,
“Gravely distressed by the continued deterioration of the devastating humanitarian situation in Syria and by the fact that urgent humanitarian assistance, including medical assistance, is now required by more than 13.5 million people in Syria — of whom 6.5 million are internally displaced, 4.5 million are living in hard-to-reach areas, including Palestinian refugees, and 393,700 civilians are trapped in besieged areas,
“Gravely concerned at the lack of effective implementation of its resolutions 2139 (2014), 2165 (2014) and 2191 (2014), and recalling in this regard the legal obligations of all parties under international humanitarian law and international human rights law, as well as all the relevant decisions of the Security Council, including by ceasing all attacks against civilians and civilian objects, including those involving attacks on schools, medical facilities and the deliberate interruptions of water supply, the indiscriminate use of weapons, including artillery, barrel bombs and air strikes, indiscriminate shelling by mortars, car bombs, suicide attacks and tunnel bombs, as well as the use of starvation of civilians as a method of combat, including by the besiegement of populated areas, and the widespread use of torture, ill-treatment, arbitrary executions, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, sexual and gender-based violence, as well as all grave violations and abuses committed against children,
“Expressing its grave concern that areas of Syria are under the control of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as Da’esh), and Al-Nusra Front (ANF) and about the negative impact of their presence, violent extremist ideology and actions on stability in Syria and the region, including the devastating humanitarian impact on the civilian populations which has led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people, reaffirming its resolve to address all aspects of the threat posed by ISIL (also known as Da’esh), ANF and all other individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated with Al-Qaida, and other terrorist groups, as determined by the United Nations Security Council, and as may further be agreed by the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) and endorsed by the UN Security Council, and calling for the full implementation of Security Council resolutions 2170 (2014), 2178 (2014), 2199 (2015), 2249 (2015) and 2253 (2015), and noting its Presidential Statements of 28 July 2014 (S/PRST/2014/14), 19 November 2014 (S/PRST/2014/23), and 29 May 2015 (S/PRST/2015/11),
“Expressing grave concern also at the movement of foreign terrorist fighters and other terrorists and terrorist groups into and out of Syria and reiterating its call on all States to take steps, consistent with international law, to prevent and suppress the flow of foreign terrorist fighters to ISIL, ANF and all other individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated with ISIL or Al-Qaida, and other terrorist groups, as determined by the United Nations Security Council, and as may further be agreed by the International Syria Support Group and endorsed by the UN Security Council,
“Reaffirming the primary responsibility of the Syrian authorities to protect the population in Syria and, reiterating that parties to armed conflict must take all feasible steps to protect civilians, and recalling in this regard its demand that all parties to armed conflict comply fully with the obligations applicable to them under international law related to the protection of civilians in armed conflict, including journalists, media professionals and associated personnel,
“Strongly condemning the arbitrary detention and torture of individuals in Syria, notably in prisons and detention facilities, as well as the kidnappings, abductions, hostage-taking and forced disappearances, and demanding the immediate end of these practices and the release of all arbitrarily detained persons starting with women and children, as well as sick, wounded and elderly people including United Nations and humanitarian personnel and journalists,
“Recalling its strong condemnation in resolution 2175 (2014) of all forms of violence and intimidation to which those participating in humanitarian operations are increasingly exposed, as well as attacks on humanitarian convoys and acts of destruction and looting of their assets, and its urging of all parties involved in an armed conflict to promote the safety, security and freedom of movement of humanitarian personnel, including medical personnel and humanitarian personnel exclusively engaged in medical duties, and United Nations and its associated personnel and their assets, expressing its admiration at the dedication and commitment of the Syrian Red Crescent volunteers, and other humanitarian workers operating in deeply challenging conditions, and urging all parties to take all appropriate steps to ensure the safety and security of United Nations and associated personnel, those of its specialized agencies, and all other personnel engaged in humanitarian relief activities,
“Noting that, despite all the challenges, since the adoption of resolution 2165 (2014), the United Nations and their implementing partners continue to deliver life-saving assistance to millions of people in need in Syria through humanitarian aid delivered across borders, including the delivery of food assistance for over 2.4 million people; non-food items for 1.6 million people; medical supplies for 4.1 million treatments, and water and sanitation supplies for over 1.3 million people,
“Deeply disturbed by the decline in the number of people reached with humanitarian assistance in hard-to-reach and besieged areas, and expressing grave alarm at the dire situation of the 393,700 civilians trapped in besieged areas in the Syrian Arab Republic, and noting in this regard that in 2015, the United Nations has only been able to reach 3.5 per cent of people in besieged areas with health assistance and 0.7 per cent of people with food assistance per month,
“Expressing grave concern at all instances of hindrances to the effective delivery of humanitarian assistance, noting that ISIL (also known as Da’esh), ANF and all other individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated with Al‑Qaida, are hindering the effective delivery of humanitarian assistance, including to nearly half of the people in hard-to-reach areas and over half of the people in besieged areas, and are responsible for preventing aid delivery through deliberate interference and obstruction,
“Expressing further grave concern at the continuing and growing impediments to the delivery of humanitarian assistance across conflict lines, including through a decline in convoy approvals by the Syrian authorities, and noting in this regard that, as of 31 October, only 27 out of the 91 inter-agency requests made in 2015 by the United Nations had been approved in principle by the Syrian authorities, and that between 2013 and 2015, the percentage of inter-agency convoys approved in principle declined from 65 per cent to 29 per cent,
“Expressing grave concern that access to medical care continues to be severely restricted, and reiterating the need to respect the principle of medical neutrality, facilitate free passage to all areas for medical personnel, equipment, transport and supplies, including surgical items,
“Reaffirming the need to support the United Nations and their implementing partners in their efforts to expand the delivery of humanitarian assistance to reach all people in need in Syria, and further reaffirming its decision in resolution 2165 (2014) that all Syrian parties to the conflict shall enable the immediate and unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance directly to people throughout Syria, by the United Nations and their implementing partners, on the basis of United Nations assessments of need and devoid of any political prejudices and aims, including by immediately removing all impediments to the provision of humanitarian assistance,
“Expressing its interest in receiving more detailed information from the UN Secretary-General on the delivery of humanitarian assistance by the United Nations and their implementing partners, in accordance with United Nations Security Council resolution 2165 (2014),
“Expressing its appreciation for the work of the United Nations monitoring mechanism in monitoring shipments and confirming their humanitarian nature, in accordance with resolutions 2165 (2014) and 2191 (2014), and commending the mechanism’s efforts in facilitating cross-border delivery of humanitarian aid by the United Nations and their implementing partners, and encouraging the United Nations and their implementing partners to continue to take steps to scale up humanitarian deliveries into hard-to-reach and besieged areas, including by using, as effectively as possible, border crossings under resolution 2165 (2014),
“Recalling the need for all parties to respect the relevant provisions of international humanitarian law and the United Nations guiding principles of humanitarian emergency assistance, and emphasising the importance of upholding the principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence in the provision of humanitarian assistance, and recalling also the importance of humanitarian deliveries reaching their intended beneficiaries,
“Noting the role that ceasefire agreements which are consistent with humanitarian principles and international humanitarian law can play in facilitating the delivery of humanitarian assistance in order to help save civilian lives, and welcoming in this regard recent progress on ceasefire agreements in Syria that have benefited the humanitarian situation,
“Expressing grave concern at the more than 4.2 million refugees, including more than 3.2 million women and children, who have fled Syria as a result of ongoing violence, and recognizing that the continued deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Syria is further contributing to the movement of refugees and poses risks to regional stability,
“Reiterating its deep appreciation for the significant and admirable efforts that have been made by the countries of the region, notably Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt, to accommodate Syrian refugees, including the approximately 1.8 million refugees who have fled Syria since the adoption of resolution 2139 (2014), and mindful of the immense costs and social challenges incurred by these countries as a consequence of the crisis,
“Noting with concern that the international response to the Syrian and regional crisis continues to fall short of meeting the needs as assessed by host Governments and the United Nations, therefore urging once again all Member States, based on burden-sharing principles, to support the United Nations and the countries of the region, including by adopting medium and long-term responses to alleviate the impact on communities, providing increased, flexible and predictable funding, as well as increasing resettlement efforts, and taking note in this regard of the Berlin Communiqué of 28 October 2014, and welcoming the announcement of the Syria Donors Conference in London, which will be generously hosted by the United Kingdom, Germany, Norway, Kuwait and the United Nations in early February 2016,
“Noting with grave concern that impunity in Syria contributes to widespread violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law, stressing the need to end impunity for these violations and abuses, and re‑emphasizing in this regard the need that those who have committed or are otherwise responsible for such violations and abuses in Syria must be brought to justice,
“Emphasizing that the humanitarian situation will continue to deteriorate further in the absence of a political solution to the crisis,
“Determining that the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Syria continues to constitute a threat to peace and security in the region,
“Underscoring that Member States are obligated under Article 25 of the Charter of the United Nations to accept and carry out the Council’s decisions,
“1. Demands that all parties, in particular the Syrian authorities, immediately comply with their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law and international human rights law as applicable, and further demands the full and immediate implementation of all the provisions of Security Council resolutions 2139 (2014), 2165 (2014) and 2191 (2014), and noting the Presidential Statements of 2 October 2013 (S/PRST/2013/15), 24 April 2015 (S/PRST/2015/10) and 17 August 2015 (S/PRST/2015/15), and recalls that some of the violations and abuses committed in Syria may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity;
“2. Decides to renew the decisions in paragraphs 2 and 3 of Security Council resolution 2165 (2014) for a further period of 12 months, that is, until 10 January 2017;
“3. Requests the Syrian authorities to expeditiously respond to all requests for cross-line deliveries submitted by the United Nations and their implementing partners, and to give such requests positive consideration;
“4. Reiterates that the situation will continue to deteriorate further in the absence of a political solution to the Syrian conflict and emphasises the need to fully implement the Geneva Communiqué of 30 June 2012 endorsed as annex II of its resolution 2118 (2013), the joint statement on the outcome of the multilateral talks on Syria in Vienna of 30 October 2015 and the statement of the International Syria Support Group of 14 November 2015;
“5. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Council on the implementation of this resolution, and on compliance by all relevant parties in Syria, within the framework of its reporting on resolutions 2139 (2014), 2165 (2014) and 2191 (2014), and further requests the Secretary-General to include in his reports overall trends in humanitarian access;
“6. Reaffirms that it will take further measures under the Charter of the United Nations in the event of non-compliance with this resolution or resolutions 2139 (2014), 2165 (2014) and 2191 (2014);
“7. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.”