Ahead of the UN Security Council’s emergency session held on Friday at a request of France, the Syrian Coalition appealed to Member States to take the action necessary to break the sieges across Syria.
The emergency session discussed the humanitarian situation in Syria, focusing on the besieged area of Madaya, where over 40,000 Syrians remain in urgent need of unimpeded and unconditional humanitarian access and sustained medical care.
Najib Ghadbian, the Syrian Coalition’s Special Representative to the United Nations, said that “one-off assistance is not going to stop the systematic starvation of innocent civilians by Assad regime forces.”
“One million people are currently trapped in besieged communities across Syria because the Assad regime is stealing aid and denying basic access. Every day, innocent men, women and children starve to death because of Assad’s sieges—but these deaths could be stopped immediately, if only Member States would take the action to enforce the Security Council’s resolutions,” Ghadbian added.
Ghadbian stressed that “the Security Council has agreed the mandate to break the sieges across Syria, and save lives immediately, including through the delivery of aid without the consent of the Assad regime. Member States must now do what it takes to ensure that the UN can fulfil its mandate to deliver aid irrespective of consent.”
“This should include air drops by those States currently conducting air operations against ISIS in Syria. Airdrops will bring immediate relief to thousands in need and they will send a strong signal to the Assad regime – and indeed ISIS – that the international community will not allow the continued use of starvation as a weapon of war,” Ghadbian added.
In his address to the council, French Ambassador Francois Delattre recalled that aid workers who reached Madaya had provided accounts of “unbearable” suffering in the town, and that now, “no one can say we didn’t know.”
Delattre called on Russia to act responsibly in Syria and to restrict its airstrikes to terrorist groups, urging members of the UN Security Council to help put an immediate end to the Syrian tragedy.
United Nations Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Kyung-wha Kang told the Security Council: “You cannot let more people die on your watch as in recent days the Syrian town of Madaya shocked the world’s conscience with harrowing images of malnutrition and hunger.”
“Regrettably, siege and starvation as a weapon of war has become routine and systematic in Syria, with devastating consequences for civilians,” Kang added.
The “barbarity” of this tactic, she said, “cannot be overstated.”
Kang told the council that “a siege that denies people access to the basic necessities of life is unlawful, unacceptable and unconscionable. There can be no reason or rationale, no explanation or excuse, for preventing aid from reaching people in need,” noting that this is “a grave violation of international law and it must stop immediately.” (Source: Syrian Coalition + Agencies)