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MENAFN - Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) - 29/03/2014
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(MENAFN - Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) UN top aid official Valerie Amos on Friday told the Security Council that the humanitarian situation in Syria is "bleak" and is likely to get worse, amid Council members intention to take "further steps" against Damascus for non-compliance with resolution 2139

Amos told reporters following her informal briefing to the Council that the humanitarian situation in Syria remains "bleak, and will continue to be bleak, unless we are granted full and unhindered access through the most efficient and direct means." She noted that only 6 percent of the people in besieged areas have received assistance since resolution 2139, adopted on February 22, urged Damascus and the opposition to ease humanitarian access to the needy in Syria

She said she told the Council "we need to see a significant step change in the speed and scale of humanitarian aid if we are to save lives and keep pace with the ever growing needs." "This piecemeal approach, despite the best efforts of the humanitarian workers on the ground, is not delivering change fast enough," she insisted

The stressed that resolution 2139 is "very clear and the rules of international humanitarian law are also clear. The continued withholding of consent on cross-border or cross-line relief operations -- like food, water, medical supplies and shelter, is arbitrary and unjustified." She predicted that the situation in Syria will get worse not better

She said "what the Council needs to think through is how what it hoped to happen as a result of the passing of this resolution (2139) is enabled to happen." "I told the members of the Council today that the situation for millions of desperate people has not improved. In fact, conflict and violence have intensified over the past 4 weeks with many people killed and injured," she said

She also expressed great concern that hundreds of thousands of people have been newly displaced from areas like eastern Aleppo and Yabroud in the south, driving them farther from humanitarian reach

She said the UN has been able to provide some assistance through cross line convoys, "but in many situations, the lack of security -- continues to prevent vital and basic aid from reaching people." Council President Ambassador Sylvie Lucas of Luxembourg told reporters that most Council members stressed that "little or no progress has been achieved in response to Council clear demands" in resolution 2139

"Most Council members expressed deep regret that there has been no meaningful progress" in implementing resolution 2139 provisions. "Indeed, attacks against heavily populated civilian areas, using barrel bombs, have continued." "In essence, the humanitarian situation in Syria has not improved, and we have not seen the step change in respect with the international humanitarian law we are looking for. On the contrary, the situation has only continued to worsen." She said

She also said the Council expressed its "intent to take further steps -- and, should the Syrian authorities continue to ignore the resolution, the Council would fully intend to uphold that commitment." The Council expresses its intent in resolution 2139 to take further steps in the case of non-compliance with its provisions

US Ambassador Samantha Power described to reporters the situation in Syria as "harrowing

The Syrian Government has utterly failed to comply with resolution 2139." She reiterated that the Syrian Government "remains the biggest obstacle to the delivery of humanitarian assistance. The Assad regime's murderous appetite for deploying artillery, barrel bombs and airstrikes against civilians in Syria -- is the number one factor in driving displacement." She noted, however, that the moderate opposition "has in fact cooperated in facilitating aid deliveries, -- and the US will continue to ask them to do more.

She said the US will work with Council colleagues on "what further steps are available to ensure compliance with the resolution's provisions. We are obliged to pursue action, not just by the seriousness with which we approach our Security Council mandate, but also out of a basic sense of decency." British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant also told reporters that Amos was "sadly unable to report any meaningful improvement" in the humanitarian situation or in the regime's commitment to cooperating with the international relief effort

Five weeks after the adoption of resolution 2139, he said, "it is clear that we have not seen the step change required. And the Syrian Government is front and center in bearing the overwhelming responsibility for this lack of response." He said the opening of the border at Qamishly is welcome, but "this only addresses a fraction of the needs," adding that it is only one of eight border crossings that the UN has identified as a priority

"What we have seen is a pattern of arbitrary denial of access, in violation of international humanitarian law and despite the Council's demands," he stressed

"As this pattern continues," he vowed, "we are considering with other like-minded Council members what levers we have to improve compliance --, what further steps can be taken. We are building up now strong body of evidence -- That is the start," adding that he did not want to speculate what the steps would be

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, whose country is Syria's closest ally, told reporters before the Council meeting "Yes, yes, I think there has been some progress. It is a very difficult situation, a lot of fighting. I think the mechanism is working a little bit better now. I think there is some progress in implementing resolution 2139." Najib Ghadbian, Syrian Coalition Special Envoy to the UN said in an email that "the facts are clear and demand a response from the Security Council -- Recognizing the grave and worsening situation in Syria, the Security Council must show that it is serious and determined to stop the humanitarian crisis."

He said the Syrian regime has so far "fundamentally failed to respect its obligations under international law," and therefore, the Security Council "must be prepared to use the considerable tools at its disposal to compel the regime to comply -- The credibility of the international community, and more importantly, the lives of innocent Syrians are at stake."


Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)

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