The Syrian Regime, Which Is Accused of Stealing and Looting Humanitarian Aid, Obstructing Its Access, and Besieging and Starving Entire Areas, Cannot Be Trusted
Press release (Link below to download full report):
Paris – The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) states in its report released today that the UN aid to northern Syria, which is neutral, absolutely essential, and delivered with the approval of the controlling forces, does not need permission from the Security Council, stressing that the Syrian regime, which is accused of stealing and looting humanitarian aid, obstructing its access, and besieging and starving entire areas, cannot be trusted.
The 10-page report notes that the United Nations, represented by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), has been subjected to one of the worst forms of extortion, looting and humiliation in the twenty-first century due to the shameful behavior of the Syrian regime, whose aim from the start has been to increase the suffering of the population in areas outside its control, as a form of collective punishment, by deliberately delaying aid for long weeks and months, controlling the quantity of aid distributed and the areas of aid distribution, establishing organizations affiliated with the Syrian regime and its security services, and imposing requirements that all aid deals be conducted through them.
As the report further notes, a coalition of senior legal experts, lawyers and human rights defenders ruled in April 2014 that there is no legal obstacle preventing the United Nations from delivering humanitarian aid across the border, since the United Nations meets the conditions for humanitarian action in having the necessary humanitarian, neutral, impartial and unbiased character, with the approval of the controlling forces on the other side of the border (the armed opposition) being guaranteed, and the population there desperately needing aid, while it is unacceptable for the parties to withhold approval except on the grounds of legitimate legal reasons, not for arbitrary ones.
As the report reveals, in response to this ruling and to the many articles and statements supporting this approach, the UN Security Council took the initiative to disregard the advice of legal experts and human rights defenders, instead adopting Resolution No. 2165 in July 2014, under which the United Nations and its partners were allowed to deliver aid through four border crossings without the approval of the Syrian regime, which is, as the report describes, superficially supportive of UN aid being delivered, while in its essence the expansion of the Security Council’s powers is arbitrary, and its control over these issues is outside its competence, as there is no rule in international law stating that the UNOCHA’s cross-border aid delivery is illegal.
The report further adds that the Syrian regime, its Russian ally and their defenders describe the provision of cross-border aid as a violation of territorial integrity, with the report stating that this general argument is unacceptable. The report provides three additional reasons that further underline why it’s essential to ensure that delivery of cross-border aid is free of Syrian regime influence or Security Council intervention:
One: Prohibited intervention is coercion, and the delivery of necessary humanitarian aid is not coercive intervention; UN relief workers are unarmed and impartial, and relief actions shall not be regarded as interference in the armed conflict or as unfriendly acts.
Two: Humanitarian aid passes through Turkey or Iraq, with both countries agreeing to allow the entry of aid to Syria, with aid reaching areas under the control of the Armed Opposition forces or the Syrian Democratic Forces, and the controlling forces welcoming the entry of aid.
Three: Necessity is the main reason for seeking humanitarian aid, with the necessity in northern Syria being the most acute.
Fadel Abdul Ghany, Director of the Syrian Network for Human Rights, says:
“We must always remember that those in need of UN aid are internally displaced persons who have been forcibly displaced from their homes as a result of aerial bombardment by Russia and the Syrian regime, and who are unable to return home for fear of revenge attacks by the Syrian regime and its militias, meaning that Russia not only helped to destroy their homes and to displace them, but also wants to withhold aid from them, despite IDPs being the poorest and most needy members of society. The Security Council’s authoritarian hand must be lifted from the issue of impartial and essential UN aid.”
As the report reveals, Russia’s use of its veto on three occasions to prevent the delivery of UN humanitarian aid is an additional disgrace to the Security Council. In this context, the report calls on the General Assembly to confront the paralysis and blackmail of the Security Council on the issue of humanitarian aid, adding that the UN General Assembly, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, democratic countries and countries supporting the Syrian people are in an exemplary situation to demand that the Security Council stop controlling the decision on cross-border aid, permanently get rid of the periodic blackmail by Russia and the Security Council by threatening to use their veto in the face of extending the decision to approve the delivery of cross-border aid, and issuing a clear decision emphasizing that UN humanitarian cross-border aid does not need a decision from the Security Council or require the permission of the state in the event of the arbitrary withholding of aid affecting the basic human rights of citizens, the foremost of which is the right to life.
The report stresses that under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, States have the responsibility to seek to provide assistance to their residents, but the Syrian regime has not only besieged entire cities and villages, but has withheld consent for aid provision, obstructed the delivery of humanitarian aid and looted it, controlling the distribution areas through its loyalists.
The report adds that all civilians in situations of armed conflict must be able to obtain all necessary assistance.
The report recommends that the UN General Assembly should take additional steps towards a resolution allowing the delivery of cross-border aid in cases of necessity where aid is being arbitrarily withheld.
The report also calls on the OCHA and the International Committee of the Red Cross to continue cross-border aid delivery, ignore the Russian veto which is arbitrary and contrary to international law, and return to delivering aid through al Ya’rubiya and Bab al Salam crossings as soon as possible, as well as providing a number of other recommendations.