Civilians in war-torn Syria have been “let down” by international agencies designed to protect them, a scathing report marking the fourth anniversary of the conflict claims today.
Some 21 humanitarian and human rights organisations said the UN Security Council failed to alleviate the suffering of civilians in Syria amid intensifying conflict, with 2014 marking the bloodiest year since the war began.
Despite three Security Council resolutions adopted in 2014 that demanded action to secure protection and assistance for civilians, humanitarian access to large parts of Syria has diminished and more people are being killed, displaced and are in need of help than ever before, according to the Failing Syria report.
Andy Baker, Oxfam’s program manager on Syria, said: “The Security Council’s words now ring hollow. The last year has seen little concrete action from parties to the conflict and governments with influence to tackle the spiralling humanitarian crisis in Syria.
“What good is a resolution to a mother whose house has been bombed and children are hungry if it is ignored and undermined? It is time for powerful governments to stop fuelling the conflict, significantly scale up humanitarian assistance to meet people’s immediate needs and push the warring parties towards a political solution.
“Russia, the US and other states have the political and diplomatic influence to make the changes set out in the resolution real – there is no more time to lose.”
March 2011 saw a national uprising and protests demanding political reform in Syria as part of the wider Arab Spring which saw governments overthrown in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia.
Since then, more than 220,000 people have been killed in the conflict, with 76,000 of those having lost their lives last year.
An estimated 12.2 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance inside Syria, while £800 million has been committed by the UK government to provide support in response to the conflict, according to the Department for International Development.
Today’s charity report claims those most in need of aid are unable to get hold of it – In 2013, 71% of the funds needed to support civilians inside Syria and refugees in neighbouring countries were provided, though last year this dropped to 57%.
Justin Forsyth, Save the Children chief executive, said: “While heroic humanitarian workers risk their lives to give essential aid and services, millions of Syrians remain out of reach, not only because of fighting but also because of a lack of funding and the failures of the UN Security Council.
“Across Syria, children are suffering. They are being killed, injured, made homeless – and children are missing out on their education because we cannot reach them and schools have been attacked and destroyed.”
Jan Egeland, secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, said: “The bitter reality is that the Security Council has failed to implement its resolutions. Last year was the darkest year yet in this horrific war.
“Parties to the conflict have acted with impunity and ignored the Security Council’s demands, civilians are not protected and their access to relief has not improved.”
A total of 1.1 million people were reached via inter-agency convoys from the Syrian capital of Damascus in 2014 compared with 2.9 million people in 2013). Out of Syria’s 34 border crossings, only five are currently open for humanitarian convoys, nine are restricted and the remainder are closed, the report adds.