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

US Firms Concerned About China's New Cyber Regulations

New rules would require technology companies doing business in financial sector to hand over their source code, adopt Chinese encryption algorithms More

WHO Focus on Ebola Shifts to Ending Outbreak

Focus to be less on building facilities and more on efforts to find infected people, manage their cases, engage with communities and ensure proper burials More

US Scientist Who Conceived of Groundbreaking Laser Technology Dies

Charles Townes, Nobel laureate, laser co-creator paved way for other scientific discoveries: CDs, eye surgery, metal cutters to name a few technologies that rely on lasers 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.
Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Webi
X
January 29, 2015 9:58 AM
Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video As Ground Shifts, Obama Reviews Middle East Strategy

The death of Saudi Arabia’s king, the collapse of a U.S.-friendly government in Yemen and a problematic relationship with Israel’s leadership are presenting a new set of complications for the Obama administration and its Middle East policy. Not only is the U.S. leader dealing with adversaries in Iran, the Islamic State and al-Qaida, but he is now juggling trouble with traditional allies, as White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.

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