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Humanitarian needs outpacing response amid ongoing obstacles to aid delivery in Syria: UN

Humanitarian needs outpacing response amid ongoing obstacles to aid delivery in Syria: UN

India Blooms News Service | | 27 Jun 2014, 01:41 pm
New York, June 27 (IBNS): Four months after the Security Council adopted a resolution demanding unimpeded access to people in need of assistance in Syria, relief agencies continue to face obstacles to aid delivery while the needs continue to grow and are now outpacing response efforts, the United Nations humanitarian chief reported Thursday.

Resolution 2139, adopted by the Council in February, demanded action by parties to the conflict in a number of areas including ceasing attacks against civilians and doing everything in their power to facilitate rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access to people in need of assistance.

Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos told the Council that since the adoption of the resolution, an additional 1.2 million people in Syria need humanitarian assistance, bringing the total to 10.8 million. The number of people in need in hard-to-reach areas now stands at 4.7 million.

“Thousands of people continue to lose their lives every month. In the continued absence of a political solution to the crisis, humanitarian workers will continue to do everything they can, but we recognize that we cannot do it alone,” she said in her briefing.

“We look to the Council to help us ensure that the parties to the conflict abide by their obligations under international law,” she added, noting that 10.8 million women, men and children depend on that support.

Ms. Amos said that while UN agencies and non-governmental organization partners continue their efforts to meet urgent humanitarian needs, insecurity and active conflict play a role in preventing humanitarian access to many locations.

“However, arbitrary restrictions and obstructions, including bureaucratic procedures imposed by the Government, limit or obstruct where we deliver aid, to whom and how often. Some opposition groups have also attacked, threatened and refused to cooperate with humanitarian workers.”

For example, the Government of Syria introduced new truck sealing procedures in April intended to streamline and ensure safe passage of regular aid deliveries. This new mechanism was poorly implemented and resulted in a large backlog of deliveries.

Food assistance fell by nearly a million in May and has yet to be restored to previous levels, with only 50 per cent of planned food assistance dispatched in June, Ms. Amos noted. On 9 June, the Government announced additional requirements involving the submission of monthly distribution plans and weekly loading plans.

In addition, the Government introduced new procedures for the delivery of assistance to hard-to-reach locations through UN hubs. The new procedures require three levels of approval, undermine previous agreements and have caused two successive months of decline in aid deliveries.

“I cannot describe to the Council the frustration felt by experienced aid workers who have to spend endless hours trying to get agreement for aid deliveries as people’s lives hang in the balance,” said the Under-Secretary-General.

“The focus of the Government of Syria remains on controlling the work of the UN and its partners. Our focus remains on the people who so desperately need our help.”

She also reported that violence and attacks on civilians by all parties to the conflict and human rights abuses continue unabated, with devastating consequences for those affected. “There have been numerous examples of targeted or indiscriminate attacks on civilians in densely populated areas, in violation of the most fundamental principles of international humanitarian law.”

One example was the morning of 18 June when barrel bombs were dropped on a camp for displaced people in As Shajara in southern Syria, near the border with Jordan. Around 350 families lived in the camp. Dozens of people, including women and children were killed.

Countless others have lost their lives or been injured as the conflict – now in its fourth year – continues to rage in other parts of country, including in the Governorates of Aleppo, Hama, Idleb, Dar’a, Rural Damascus and Deir-ez-Zor, said Ms. Amos, who is also UN Emergency Relief Coordinator.

She said 241,000 people continue to live under siege conditions unable to leave their communities. Since her last briefing to the Council, only 2,467 people – or 1 per cent of those living in besieged areas – have received much needed food assistance.

“Once again, I remind this Council that targeting or indiscriminately attacking vulnerable civilians constitutes a war crime,” said Ms. Amos.

“There can be no justification for such action. Deliberately obstructing humanitarian access and depriving civilians of access to services essential to their survival, is unlawful and inhumane.”

A UNHCR container truck heads for Sweida with aid to be distributed to needy Syrians displaced within the south of their country. Photo: UNHCR/B. Diab

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Erdogan's Turkey turns Hagia Sophia into a mosque again; UNESCO regrets #HagiaSophia, #Turkey, #Istanbul, #HagiaSophiaMosqueAgain Istanbul/IBNS: Hagia Sophia, Turkey's iconic monument, a UNESCO World Heritage and one of the central attractions of its capital Istanbul, is no longer a museum. It has been turned back as a mosque though some 1500 years ago it was built as an Orthodox Christian cathedral. Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque during the Ottoman time in 1453 while under Ataturk it was turned into a museum in 1935. The decision comes amid a growing rise of the Islamists in Turkey who had been demanding that it be restored as a mosque though Opposition leaders with secular credentials had been against the move. A top court in Turkey ruled that turning it into a museum in 1935 by modern Turkey's secular architect Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was illegal, paving the way for present Turkey president Recep Tayyip Erdogan to declare it as a mosque again and to open it for Muslim prayers. Erdogan made the announcement an hour after the court ruled the conversion to museum in 1935 as illegal and scrapped its status. "May it be beneficial," posted Erdogan on Twitter, sharing an official document on the change with his signature. UNESCO regrets In an immediate reaction, UNESCO said it "deeply regrets" the decision. UNESCO said it was "regrettable that the Turkish decision was not the subject of dialog nor notification beforehand". "UNESCO calls on the Turkish authorities to open a dialog without delay in order to avoid a step back from the universal value of this exceptional heritage whose preservation will be reviewed by the World Heritage Committee in its next session," the United Nation's cultural body said in a statement. Istanbul icon of beauty and wonderment According to Turkey's official tourism website, Hagia Sophia is a remarkable achievement in the history of architecture. and a living proof of mankind's revolt against the laws of physics and it calls it a monument whose importance transcends borders. It is one of UNESCO's World Cultural Heritage sites attracting millions of visitors across the world with its majestic grandeur

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Erdogan's Turkey turns Hagia Sophia into a mosque again 11 Jul 2020, 01:37 pm