Airstrikes, shelling continue in Syria despite Security Council’s ceasefire call – top UN officials
Despite the Security Council’s demand for a ceasefire throughout Syria, violence continues to plague the war-ravaged country, worsening the humanitarian situation and the suffering of its people, top United Nations political and relief officials said Wednesday, calling on all parties to the conflict to “fulfil their obligations to end the fighting.”
“The brief respite you [Security Council members,] unanimously demanded only days ago in resolution 2401 has not materialized. The airstrikes, shelling, and ground offensives continue. There are even reports of yet another chlorine gas attack,” Jeffrey Feltman, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, said at a Council meeting on the situation.
“What we need is implementation of 2401, and that is not happening.”
Speaking alongside Mr. Feltman, Mark Lowcock, the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator relayed some questions received by the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which he heads up, since the resolution was adopted this past Saturday.
One question asked what has happened in Syria in the last few days?
“More bombing. More fighting. More death. More destruction. More maiming of women and children. More hunger. More misery. More, in other words, of the same,” answered Mr. Lowcock.
Both Mr. Lowcock and Mr. Feltman underscored that the resolutions adopted by the Security Council, including resolution 2401, must be implemented for any positive change to be possible.
Meanwhile, on the ground, the situation remains precarious: millions of Syrians are unable to access any assistance and hundreds of thousands, such as those in eastern Ghouta, remain trapped in sieges.
Speaking on other parts of the country, Mr. Lowcock, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, said that in Deir ez-Zor, the first UN assessment mission in three and a half years found that while the town is about 80 per cent destroyed, it is still home to 100,000 people.
The situation in Damascus city, Idleb, Afrin, Aleppo, Raqqa, Rukban, and in other places also remains concerning, he added.
In two weeks, the conflict in the country will enter into its eighth year, during this time, hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed and millions have been displaced from their homes or forced as refugees in neighbouring countries.
“There are no words to express our frustration over the collective failure of the international community to end this war. But that frustration is nothing compared to the suffering and destruction visited ceaselessly upon the Syrian people,” said Mr. Feltman, warning that the conflict also continues to threaten regional and international.
Underscoring that there is no military solution to the conflict, the UN political chief stressed that that the Organization “remains convinced that a political solution is the only way forward” and called on positive and constructive engagement of all stakeholders.
“Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura is pressing forward on facilitating the establishment of a constitutional committee in Geneva, as part of the overall intra-Syrian political process towards full implementation of resolution 2254,” he added, noting that the full support of the Security Council and the international community is vital if UN efforts “are to have a chance of reinvigorating a serious and meaningful political process.”
“I trust that [Mr. de Mistura] will have that support.”