Islamic Relief and 17 partners welcome unanimous UN call for unhindered aid access in Syria
Islamic Relief has joined 17 other leading humanitarian and human rights organisations in welcoming a UN Security Council resolution on Syria passed unanimously on February 22. The resolution demands safe and unhindered humanitarian access – including across conflict lines and across borders – to people in need throughout Syria.
“We welcome this resolution and hope that all parties adhere to it fully and without delay,” says Jehangir Malik, our UK Director. “Many lives have been lost in Syria and millions of people have suffered needlessly because aid has been blocked or because it has been too difficult and dangerous to reach those in need. If this vote is fully implemented, it will have a hugely positive impact for people across Syria that our teams are working tirelessly to assist. Islamic Relief and other agencies will be able to help more people escaping the fighting, and get through to more mothers, children and besieged families who are currently out of reach.”
Three previous Security Council resolutions on humanitarian access inside Syria have been vetoed by China and Russia. The Chinese and Russians finally voted in favour this time, and progress now depends on the Syrian authorities heeding the UN’s voice. Islamic Relief has issued a joint statement about the successful resolution with four fellow members of the Disasters Emergency Committee (Christian Aid, Save the Children, Tearfund and World Vision) and 12 other organisations, from Human Rights Watch to the Syrian American Medical Society.
The joint statement describes the vote as an important step forward, but warns that “it will only be meaningful if it results in real, substantial changes on the ground in Syria”.
The statement then explains: “We have been in a similar situation before. Last October, the Security Council issued a strong statement urging all parties, in particular the Syrian authorities, to facilitate safe and unhindered humanitarian access to people in need. At that time, approximately 6.8 million Syrians were in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. Now that number is 9.3 million, half of whom are children. After more than four months and a significant amount of diplomatic effort, the results on the ground have been meagre and the overall humanitarian situation has deteriorated.
“The people of Syria cannot afford a recurrence of that disappointment. They cannot afford for this resolution to be disregarded. Security Council members must now show…unity in ensuring the full and swift implementation of their demands.”
Islamic Relief and fellow signatories to the statement are calling for real progress within 30 days in five areas if the UN resolution is to be judged a success on the ground:
1. Lifting of sieges on populated areas and ensuring all people in besieged communities have safe and unhindered access to humanitarian aid
2. Opening of border crossings from neighbouring countries for deliveries of life-saving aid by both the UN and NGOs
3. Streamlined procedures for approving humanitarian aid convoys and prompt approval of requests for convoys to travel to hard-to-reach areas
4. Cessation of attacks on schools and hospitals and the demilitarisation of these facilities, as well as the facilitation of free passage for all medical personnel and equipment
5. Cessation of indiscriminate use of explosive weapons in populated areas, and any methods of warfare which do not respect the obligation under international humanitarian law to distinguish between civilian populations and combatants.