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

Multimedia Obama, Modi Resolve Nuclear Deal Issues

Leaders find resolution on issues of liability of suppliers to India in event of nuclear accident, US demands to track whereabouts of material supplied to country More

WHO's Late Efforts in Tackling Ebola Highlight Need for Reform

Health experts debate measures to reform agency’s response to global public health emergencies in special one-day session on deadly outbreak More

One Tumultuous Year in Power for CAR's President

As sectarian violence raged across Central African Republic, interim President Catherine Samba-Panza has Herculean task: to end civil war and put country back on right track More

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.
Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youthi
X
Julie Taboh
January 23, 2015 11:08 PM
Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.
Video

Video Secular, Religious Kurds Face Off in Southeast Turkey

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence between religious and secular Kurds. Dorian Jones reports on the reasons behind the stand-off from the region's main city of Diyarbakir, which suffered the bloodiest fighting.
Video

Video Kenya: Misuse of Antibiotics Leading to Resistance by Immune System

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story from Nairobi.
Video

Video Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Circumnavigate Globe

Pilots of the solar plane that already set records flying without a drop of fuel are close to making their first attempt to fly the craft around the globe. They plan to do it in 25 flying days over a five month period. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee

Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride. Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa decided to find out what makes the bean and brew so special and how experts make their determinations.
Video

Video Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds

The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country's pro-Kurdish movement. VOA's Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video World’s Richest 1% Forecast to Own More Than Half of Global Wealth

The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will overtake that of the remaining 99 percent at some point in 2016, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam. Campaigners are demanding that policymakers take action to address the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid