The UN’s Humanitarian Chief has told the Security Council that its resolution passed on Saturday, demanding a 30-day ceasefire across Syria has not been implemented.
Mark Lowcock told the Council that convoys of aid are ready to go into at least 10 besieged areas in the war-torn country but that the ceasefire, unanimously demanded by the Council this past weekend, is being ignored.
He also explained that five-hour daily pauses offered by Syria’s ally Russia would be insufficient to deliver desperately needed aid.
Fighting in Syria should have stopped by now, at least according to the interpretation of the resolution by several council members and the UN Secretariat after Saturday’s vote.
The Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and the Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock says, “Has Security Council resolution 2401 been implemented, is there a ceasefire in Syria? No and No. Have you got any inter-agency cross-line convoys through to hard to reach or besieged areas? No. Have you been given permission to access any of those locations? No. Have you received the necessary facilitation letters for convoys? No. Have there been any medical evacuations? No. Have any civilians left eastern Ghouta? No. Is there any actual improvement in the humanitarian situation in Eastern Ghouta since the passage of the resolution demanding as it did unimpeded access? No.”
Sweden, which co-authored the resolution, warned that the clock was ticking, the UK called the lack of implementation unacceptable, and while France’s envoy Francois Delatrre warned the credibility of Council resolutions would be undermined if not enacted.
“The President of the SNC as well as the main armed groups in Eastern Ghouta have committed to abide by resolution 2401 and to implement the ceasefire as provided by the resolution. On the contrary the Syrian regime didn’t say a word about it and moreover is continuing its siege and large scale military operations with dramatic consequences.”
And while being criticized for offering a five-hour daily pause for humanitarian purposes, Russia defended its decision pointing to the operative paragraphs of the resolution that call on all parties to cease hostilities without delay and engage immediately to ensure full and comprehensive implementation of this demand.
Russia’s envoy Vassily Nebenzia also angrily referred to the text which calls for parties to agree on humanitarian pauses, casting further doubt on whether Council member’s demands for an immediate ceasefire is in fact what the text prescribes.
“Russia has announced the establishment in eastern Ghouta of daily five hour humanitarian pauses, everything possible is being done to ensure their effective operation including a temporary medical point, emergency teams have being organized, vehicular transportation has been provided, we call upon the UN and the ICRC and other recognized organisations to join the efforts that have been undertaken.”
Meanwhile, Syria’s Ambassador Bashar Jaafari also defended his government’s stance.
“We cannot do it alone; we need the sponsors of these terrorists in eastern Ghouta to influence them so that they commit themselves to the resolution 2401. You cannot do it by yourself, we are of course an important party in this regard but to guarantee the full implementation of the resolution you need conditions, everybody should be on board, everybody, not this faction or that faction.”
The Syrian Government has long argued they are fighting terrorists in rebel-held enclaves despite widespread reports of civilian casualties including women and children.