Aid groups blast UN Security Council over toothless resolutions

A view of a U.N. Security Council meeting on the continuing Syrian crisis. Resolutions to protect civilians and allow unhindered humanitarian access for U.N. agencies and humanitarian partners in conflict-torn Syria have done little to effect change on the ground. Photo by: Loey Felipe / United Nations

Twenty-one humanitarian and human rights organizations released Thursday a damning report on the U.N. Security Council’s failure to effectively implement resolutions to alleviate humanitarian suffering and aid operation hurdles in Syria.

The report comes as the Syrian crisis enters its fifth year.

It was just a year ago when the aid community welcomed a breakthrough at the U.N. Security Council after the body unanimously backed a resolution that demanded all parties cease attacks to protect civilians and civilian facilities, and allow safe, unhindered humanitarian access for U.N. agencies and its implementing partners.

That resolution was followed by two more that included authorizing U.N. agencies and humanitarian partners to undertake cross-border operations.

But the groups noted those resolutions have done little to effect change on the ground. In 2014, the internally displaced population grew 26 percent. Further, 2.3 million more people are estimated to be trapped in hard-to-reach areas and are not receiving as much food assistance because of fighting and bureaucratic delays in the few entryways that are still open for cross-border aid operations. Humanitarian organizations also continue to face the same issues with registration and obtaining permits for staff.

According to the report, trucks carrying aid supplies often wait between four and 10 days to be allowed to cross to Syria. Processes to obtain permits for aid agencies and their staff to work in Turkey for example, where many are based for their operations in Syria, take six months or more. Aid workers also continue to be subject to arrests or detention, kidnapped or killed in crossfire. At least 70 international and national aid workers have been killed since the conflict started. And of the 200 abducted, more than 30 remain in captivity.

Further, funding has also not kept pace with needs. As of writing, donors have only covered $165 million or 6 percent of the current $2.89 billion appeal for the Syria Response Plan, and $115 million or 3 percent of the $4.53 billion appeal for the regional response plan.

“The Security Council’s words now ring hollow,” Oxfam head of response to the Syria crisis Andy Baker said in a statement. “What good is a resolution to a mother whose house has been bombed and children are hungry if it is ignored and undermined?”

With hopes that the U.N. Security Council could help ease the humanitarian crisis in Syria fading, what other recourse is left for aid groups responding on the ground? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.