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

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened 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.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid