Aid groups criticize UN Security Council over Syria inaction

‘FAILING GRADE’::Over 20 aid groups blasted the UN council for failing to implement resolutions to boost human assistance to 12.2 million Syrians

AP, BEIRUT

Fri, Mar 13, 2015 - Page 1

More than 20 international aid groups yesterday sharply criticized the UN Security Council, saying it has failed to implement three resolutions passed last year seeking to boost humanitarian assistance to Syrian civilians caught in the country’s civil war.

The 21 humanitarian and human rights organizations delivered a “failing grade” for world powers and the broader international community as Syria’s uprising against President Bashar al-Assad entered its fifth year.

The conflict, which began with peaceful protests before escalating into a pernicious civil war, has touched off a devastating humanitarian crisis that has engulfed the broader region.

Since the conflict began, more than 220,000 people have been killed and 1 million wounded. Nearly 4 million Syrians have fled and registered as refugees in neighboring countries, while another 7.6 million people are displaced inside Syria.

All told, an estimated 12.2 million Syrians are in need of humanitarian assistance, according to the UN.

The spiraling crisis spurred the Security Council — usually paralyzed by divisions on Syria — to pass three resolutions last year aiming to increase humanitarian aid. The latest resolution, approved unanimously in December last year, extended cross-border aid deliveries to Syrians in rebel-held areas without approval from Damascus.

However, the aid groups say diplomacy has not translated into action on the ground.

“The bitter reality is that the Security Council has failed to implement its resolutions,” Norwegian Refugee Council secretary general Jan Egeland said. “Last year was the darkest year yet in this horrific war. Parties to the conflict have acted with impunity and ignored the Security Council’s demands; civilians are not protected and their access to relief has not improved.”

Andy Baker, the head of Oxfam’s response to the Syria crisis, said the UN’s words “now ring hollow.”

“The last year has seen little concrete action from parties to the conflict and governments with influence to tackle the spiraling humanitarian crisis in Syria,” Baker said. “What good is a resolution to a mother whose house has been bombed and children are hungry if it is ignored and undermined?”

In their 27-page report, the aid organizations say the number of people in need in hard-to-reach areas has nearly doubled in the past year to 4.8 million. The number of children in need of assistance has risen to 5.6 million, up 31 percent on last year, they said.

Funding has also not kept pace with needs. In 2013, 71 percent of the funds needed to support Syrians displaced in the country as well as refugees were provided. Last year, just 57 percent of the necessary funds were granted, the groups said.

The aid groups and human rights organizations that signed the report include the International Rescue Committee, the Norwegian Refugee Council, Handicap International, the Syrian Relief Network and Oxfam.