Syria: Security Council must ensure civilians in Eastern Ghouta get immediate humanitarian assistance

Responding to the news that the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) finally voted on a much-delayed resolution calling for humanitarian aid into Eastern Ghouta and a partial ceasefire, Sherine Tadros, Head of Amnesty International’s UN Office said:

“It shouldn’t require a Security Council resolution or a ceasefire for starving civilians to be allowed life-saving assistance and protection from being deliberately bombarded. These are the requirements of international humanitarian law. But now that the resolution has finally passed, the Security Council must follow through and ensure that attacks on civilians are ended and unfettered access to humanitarian assistance is provided without delay.

“For more than six years, Security Council members have abdicated their responsibility and relegated themselves to irrelevance in Syria. Even the resolutions that were belatedly adopted on ending violations and securing humanitarian access have not been enforced. They must now take all possible measures to implement the humanitarian measures of this and previous resolutions.

“While this resolution is a step in the right direction, we are worried that the long list of legitimate targets leaves too much room for warring parties to justify their indiscriminate attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure.

“Regardless of whether the ceasefire is implemented, we are urging all parties to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law. The Syrian government and Russia must immediately stop the deliberate bombing of civilians in Eastern Ghouta and the targeting of civilian infrastructure including schools and hospitals. We are also calling on armed groups in Eastern Ghouta to immediately stop their indiscriminate shelling of Damascus.

“The siege of Eastern Ghouta must immediately be lifted and aid organisations granted unfettered access to respond to the catastrophic humanitarian situation in the area, and civilians must be granted safe passage to leave. These atrocities must end. Civilians in Syria should not have to endure starvation and unspeakable suffering.

“The situation in Syria must be referred to the International Criminal Court. It is vital, for the sake of humanity, for all parties responsible for mass atrocity crimes in Syria to face justice.”