November 22, 2016

‘Shame on us for not stopping Aleppo siege’,

‘Shame on us for not stopping Aleppo siege’,

People react as they stand around coffins during a funeral for victims of last night’s attack on a wedding party that left 50 dead in Gaziantep in southeastern Turkey near the Syrian border on August 21, 2016. At least 50 people were killed when a suspected suicide bomber linked to Islamic State jihadists attacked a wedding thronged with guests, officials said on August 21. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the IS extremist group was the “likely perpetrator” of the bomb attack, the deadliest in 2016, in Gaziantep late Saturday that targeted a celebration attended by many Kurds. AFP PHOTO

New York – UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O’Brien, on Monday, said the level of depravity with which Syrian people were being treated, was a shame.

“Shame on us all for not acting to stop the annihilation of eastern Aleppo and its people and much of the rest of Syria too,” O’Brien said while delivering his monthly briefing to the Security Council.

He underscored that those maintaining the siege knew by now that the Council was unable or unwilling to enforce its will or agree on steps to stop them.

“Attacks on civilian infrastructure, most notably hospitals and schools had become commonplace.

“Such attacks were violations of international humanitarian law and some had been called out as war crimes by the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

“Millions of children had had their childhoods ripped away by calculated and reckless attacks on schools, with 30 children dead over the last two weeks of October.

“Since the adoption of Security Council resolution 2286 on May 3, over 130 attacks on medical facilities had been documented and 750 medical personnel had been killed.

“Cross-border activities had become a vital part of the response, with 420 cross-border convoys delivering health assistance sufficient for nine million people and food for three million people,” he said.

He said since his last report to the Council, none of the inter-agency convoys had been able to deliver aid across lines, which required detailed access negotiations with all sides.

He regretted that he had called over and over for strong Security Council action to back up its resolutions.

“I hear the argument that this Council should not pass a resolution because it would be ‘premature’,” he lamented.

“But it is never too premature to save a life. It is never too soon for you to find a solution to this conflict and end the suffering of the Syrian people.”

The UN official regretted that over the last week, there had been an intense unleashing of military aggression in Aleppo.

“On Nov. 15, the Syrian Government had reportedly started shelling again across areas of Aleppo held by non-State armed groups.

“Reports indicated that hundreds of civilians had been killed, injured or otherwise affected. As of yesterday, there were barely any functional hospitals left in eastern Aleppo.

“As well, more than 350 mortars and rockets had been reportedly launched by non-State armed groups into western Aleppo, killing 60 people and injuring more than 350.

“Since July, 275,000 civilians had been trapped in eastern Aleppo,” he said.

According to him, the Russian Federation and Syria had opened corridors for civilians to leave, but they were reportedly unsafe or perceived as unsafe.

He said there had also been reports that non-State armed groups had prevented those wishing to leave the city from doing so.

“Humanitarian conditions in eastern Aleppo had gone from terrifying to barely survivable.

“There had been protests against corruption and a monopoly on goods. Civilians would shortly face a harsh winter without heating.”

O’Brien said the UN would continue to insist on the parties’ obligations to see sustained humanitarian assistance delivered to those in eastern Aleppo and all who were in need throughout Syria.

He, therefore, called on all with influence to do their part to end the senseless cycles of violence.