The United Nations Security Council today urged Syrian authorities to protect civilians and to allow humanitarian access to the embattled town of Qusayr, where some families fleeing the fighting reported having had to hide for days without food.
“The members of the Security Council express their grave concern about the humanitarian impact of the recent heavy fighting in Al-Qusayr,” Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant of the United Kingdom, which holds the rotating presidency of the Council for June, said in a statement read out to the press.
The Council’s 15-membersl urged the Syrian Government “to do their utmost to protect civilians and avoid civilian casualties,” recalling that the primary responsibility in this area lay with the Syrian Government.
“They emphasize that those responsible for violations of applicable international law will be held accountable,” Mr. Grant said.
Last weekend, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos and UN human rights head Navi Pillay called for the protection of civilians and urged that thousands of trapped residents be allowed to flee the city.
Mr. Ban also reiterated that with preparations underway for the international conference on Syria “all parties to the conflict that the eyes of the world are upon them, and that they will be held accountable for any acts of atrocity carried out,” his spokesperson had said in a statement.
In its statement today, the Security Council also urged the Syrian Government to allow “immediate, safe and unhindered access” in accordance with the UN guiding humanitarian principles to reach civilians in urged need of assistance, particularly medical aid.
The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said earlier this week that it was received continued reports of as many as 1,500 injured civilians trapped in the town. Families able to escape into Lebanon had described Qusayr as a “ghost town” with harsh conditions inside the town and dangers conditions for those who try to flee.
Meanwhile, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) today said it distributed food rations to feed 2,500 people in Qusayr through its partners - the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and community leaders.
The agency said more food aid is being moved to the area as humanitarian partners assess the immediate needs of families. WFP also distributed food rations and ready-to-eat meals to some 5,000 people sheltering in schools, tents and with local families in the neighbouring towns of Hesieh and Debeh.