News / Middle East

    UN Urged to Be More Aggressive in Delivering Aid to Syrians

    Children push a cart carrying water in the Al-Bayada neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria on April 26, 2014.
    Children push a cart carrying water in the Al-Bayada neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria on April 26, 2014.
    Al Pessin
    The United Nations should do more to deliver aid to millions of people in Syria who desperately need it, humanitarian and international law experts wrote in an open letter to the organization.
     
    The letter, published in European newspapers, said the United Nations is too concerned about violating Syria’s sovereignty, and should do more to force the Damascus government to allow humanitarian aid into the country.  
     
    “Blatant disregard for the most basic rules of international humanitarian law by the Syrian government and elements of the opposition is causing millions to suffer,” the letter asserted. “But this appalling situation has been compounded by an overly cautious interpretation of international humanitarian law, which has held U.N. agencies back from delivering humanitarian aid across borders.”
     
    • Men react as they carry the body of a relative, whom activists say was killed by barrel bombs dropped by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Aleppo's al-Sakhour district, April 30, 2014.
    • This photo provided by the anti-government activist group Aleppo Media Center shows a damaged school that was hit by a Syrian government air strike in Aleppo, April 30, 2014.
    • This photo provided by the anti-government activist group Aleppo Media Center shows two Syrian men standing inside a school that was hit by a Syrian government air strike in Aleppo, April. 30, 2014.
    • People gather at the site of two car bomb attacks at al-Abassia roundabout in Homs, April 29, 2014. (SANA)
    • People gather at the site of two car bomb attacks at al-Abassia roundabout in Homs, April 29, 2014. (SANA)
    • A boy who was injured after mortar bombs landed on two areas in Damascus is seen in a hospital, April 29, 2014.
    • Residents inspect damage from mortar bombs that landed in Badr al-Din al-Hussein school complex, a religious college in Bab Saghir, Damascus, April 29, 2014.
    • A mortar shell is seen in front of vehicles after mortars landed on two areas in Damascus, April 29, 2014. (SANA)

    The experts said the legal commitment to Syria’s sovereignty is outweighed by an international doctrine called the Responsibility to Protect. The concept is that if states do not protect their citizens from mass killing and other crimes against humanity, the international community has a responsibility to do so.

    Professor Stephen Chan of the University of London is one of the 35 signatories to the open letter.

    “I just think that the humanitarian situation in Syria has become so desperate that the time for legal caution has passed,” Chan said.

    The letter acknowledges that taking a more aggressive approach, such as trying to send in relief convoys without permission, could be dangerous.
     
    But Chan said armed convoys have been used before, in other conflicts. He said it may be time to try that in Syria.

    “The Syrian government would be taking a huge risk in terms of what little respect it still has, if it were to attack a humanitarian convoy,” he said.

    Chan said the letter-writers want to pressure the Syrian government, and rebel groups, to allow the aid to pass. But he said, more importantly, the United Nations needs to authorize a more aggressive humanitarian approach.

    “The key objective is the United Nations, but also within the United Nations pressure on the Security Council, and particularly on countries like Russia, to facilitate what is intended here, in our letter, very, very much as a humanitarian exercise," Chan said.

    The United Nations said more than 9 million people in Syria are in urgent need of assistance, and 3.5 million of them are in hard to reach areas.

    You May Like

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora