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NEW YORK: Denial of access to humanitarian efforts during armed conflict reinforces a vicious cycle of killing and forced displacement, the United States warned Wednesday.
The result can be seen in Syria where, after 11 years of ‘brutal war by the Assad regime’, 14 million people depend on humanitarian aid to survive and 6.6 million are internally displaced. , said Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the permanent US Representative to the UN.
She called for the renewal and expansion of existing crossing points and the addition of new crossings to facilitate the delivery of aid to the Syrian people.
“Every month, Syrian civilians are attacked and killed by the Assad regime and others,” she said. “And hospitals often don’t have the medicine or supplies to help the injured because aid convoys can’t reach them.”
She was speaking as she called a meeting of the Security Council, which is chaired by the United States this month. It follows the publication of a report by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, which paints a bleak picture of the difficulties faced by humanitarian operations in conflict zones such as as Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan and Mali. .
It highlights serious concerns about attacks on humanitarian workers and assets; 143 such security incidents were recorded in 14 countries and territories in 2021, resulting in the deaths of 93 aid workers.
In a concept note distributed ahead of the meeting, the U.S. mission said that while international humanitarian law and other legal frameworks provide the foundation needed to facilitate humanitarian access and protection for aid workers, the legal principles are often ignored. .
Focusing on Syria in particular, Thomas-Greenfield told his fellow ambassadors that the Security Council has the power to provide humanitarian access routes where they are most desperately needed.
“We did that last year when we voted unanimously to renew the UN’s cross-border assistance mandate in Syria,” she said.
“It was an important and vital decision for millions of people. It demonstrated the best we can do when we work together.
The UN estimates that 14.6 million Syrians will need humanitarian assistance this year, an increase of nearly 10% from last year.
“So we have to renew the mandate again,” Thomas-Greenfield said. “And we need to expand it and increase the number of crossings to meet the growing demands for humanitarian aid in Syria.”
She will travel to Bab Al-Hawa, the only crossing point that currently remains open, in the coming days.
Security Council discussions on the issue often prove difficult, with Russia and China constantly insisting that all humanitarian aid deliveries require the consent of the Syrian authorities.
When international aid deliveries to Syria began in 2014, the Security Council approved four border crossings. In January 2020, permanent member Russia used its veto power to force all but one to close. Moscow maintains that international aid operations violate Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Vassily Nebenzia, Russia’s permanent representative to the UN, said: “Despite notable successes in the fight against international terrorism, the establishment of full peace and stability in the country is hampered by the illegal occupation by the United States of a significant part of the (Syrian territory).
“Camps with inhuman living conditions for the civilian population continue to operate in the occupied territories. Devastation and total anarchy reign.
He accused the “American occupying power” of “openly plundering” Syria’s natural and agricultural resources and smuggling oil and grain out of the country, describing it as “the American recipe for dealing with the energy crisis and world food”.
“Despite the grave and protracted humanitarian situation in Syria and the economic crisis, the United States and the EU continue to apply unlawful unilateral sanctions against the long-suffering Syrian people, with dire consequences,” Nebenzia added.
The current mandate of the cross-border mechanism is due to expire in July.