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Aid Groups: UN Has Failed to Protect Syrian Civilians

  • VOA News

FILE - Destruction is seen following a reported barrel-bomb attack by Syrian government forces in the northern city of Aleppo.

FILE - Destruction is seen following a reported barrel-bomb attack by Syrian government forces in the northern city of Aleppo.

Two U.N. Security Council (UNSC) resolutions adopted last year have failed to improve the humanitarian situation in Syria, better protect its civilians from violence or forge any progress toward a political resolution to the country's crisis, according to a report from international aid agencies released Thursday.

"Across every single indicator that we have looked at, the situation has gotten worse," said Daniel Gorevan, head of humanitarian campaigning with Oxfam International, one of the organizations involved in the assessment.

The resolutions focused on urging all parties to protect civilians, end indiscriminate attacks and allow for humanitarian aid to reach those in need. But the group of more than 20 aid agencies said the measures have been ignored or undermined, leaving Syrians to experience "increasing destruction, suffering and death."

"While the UNSC has the legal authority to demand these changes, its members and their allies have the political, diplomatic and financial influence, and the ability, to ensure these changes actually happen," the report says. "Without action by individual governments, the demands within these resolutions remain little more than words on a page. They can no longer be ignored."

Gorevan told VOA that not only have the resolutions been unsuccessful, but council members also have contributed to the damage in Syria.

"Members of the Security Council have, in some ways, even undermined their own resolutions. So, 90 percent of the weapons which are being used in Syria were manufactured in states that are permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — particularly Russia, which continues to provide arms and ammunition to the Syria government. Also, the U.S., which has increased its arms supplies to the opposition," he said.

As the violence continued, pushing the death toll to more than 220,000 people, the U.N. appeals for money to help the 12.2 million Syrians in need of emergency aid remained massively underfunded. Last year, the United Nations said it received 57 percent of needed funding.

For 2015, it is asking for $8.4 billion in one of the largest-ever humanitarian appeals to help the massive refugee population who fled Syria and those forced from their homes within the country. So far, member nations have contributed $230 million.

The U.N. humanitarian agency says it hopes a donor conference in Kuwait City at the end of the month will bring significant aid pledges.

"We have only a narrow opportunity to intervene now as this potentially lost generation confronts its future," said U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres. "Abandoning refugees to hopelessness only exposes them to even greater suffering, exploitation and dangerous abuse."

In addition to meeting the funding needs, the aid agencies' report calls on the world, particularly rich nations, to increase the number of Syrian refugees they resettle.

The report also highlights the failure to bring a negotiated political end to the fighting, despite two rounds of U.N.-mediated peace talks. It says that all parties should begin meaningful and inclusive talks, and the international community needs to emphasize the peace process.

"Our argument is that these individual governments should put pressure on those that are fighting to halt violations, to stop the bomb attacks, the killings, to allow humanitarian access so that the people that are in need can receive lifesaving assistance," Gorevan said.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the Syrian people feel increasingly abandoned by the world, adding that nations cannot shirk their collective responsibility.

"Humanitarian assistance can only alleviate Syria's suffering, not stop the war," Ban said Thursday in a statement. "For this, a political solution to this senseless conflict is necessary."

Ban spoke of war crimes and such horrors as executions, arbitrary arrests, torture and indiscriminate bomb attack on civilians, including chemical weapons. He appealed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to take decisive steps to end the bloodshed and open a political process.

"Governments or movements that aspire to legitimacy do not massacre their own people," Ban said.

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