UN Security Council to meet on Syria: Unhindered, immediate access needed so all Syrians can reach humanitarian aid

Published: 26th March 2014

On Friday (Mar 28), the Under-Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos, will address the UN Security Council on Syria.

In advance of the briefing, Andy Baker, who heads up Oxfam’s response to the Syria Crisis, said:

“The humanitarian situation in Syria is desperate and for many affected by the crisis, time is starting to run out. Safe, unhindered and immediate access is needed to ensure that people across the country can reach food, water and medical care.

“The recent UNSC Resolution was a diplomatic breakthrough but more than 30 days since its adoption there has been minimal easing of humanitarian access by all parties to the conflict. While one-off or sporadic initiatives bring temporary relief to a small number of people, on their own they are not enough. We have yet to see a major difference on the ground in the lives of millions of Syrians across the country that remain cut off from assistance, or are trapped by fighting and are unable to flee to safety.

“The operating environment inside Syria remains challenging and hampered by insecurity, with staff deployment, staff travel and logistics all requiring multiple levels of clearances to proceed.  In spite of these constraints, we are providing over half a million people inside Syria with safe and reliable drinking water - but more is needed.

“What is vital now is that all resolutions and statements translate in to rapid, safe and sustained access so that people can move around freely, access basic services, markets and resume their livelihoods. Governments must use their political influence with all sides in the conflict to ensure they respect, protect and fulfill people’s rights by not indiscriminately targeting civilians and facilitating their access to the above.

“Greater humanitarian access is only the first step, weapons continue to flow in to the country with civilians bearing the brunt of intensified fighting.  We need to a see an end to the violence and bloodshed and an inclusive long-term political solution.”

Background information

Following intense negotiation and in a rare sign of unity the UN Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2139 on humanitarian issues in Syria. The resolution called on all parties to promptly allow unhindered humanitarian access for United Nations agencies and its partners, including across conflict lines, and to ensure that aid reached people through the most direct routes.  It expressed its intent to take “further steps” in the case of non-compliance, requesting the Secretary-General to report every 30 days on implementation by all parties. The first report to the Council was delivered on 24 March with Valerie Amos due to provide a further briefing from the UN on 28 March.

’11 immediate actionable steps’ in six priority areas (besieged areas, hard to reach areas, medical assistance and vaccination campaigns, demilitarisation of schools and hospitals, administrative hurdles and funding), developed by the High Level Group on Humanitarian Challenges in Syria (Chaired by Australia, Jordan and Luxembourg and consisting of around 30 states including Russia and the US) have been updated with language from Resolution 2139.  The UN has also presented the Government of Syria with a new convoy plan and a list of priority areas for regular programming.  These 11 immediate actionable steps will be used as benchmarks to monitor progress on implementing the resolution.

Contact information

For more information or to arrange interviews please email Zahra Akkerhuys on zakkerhuys@oxfam.org.uk or Ruba Saqr on rsaqr@oxfam.org.uk

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