Fragile ceasefire should be nurtured through diplomacy say leading aid groups
World powers must safeguard the “glimmer of hope” the Syrian cease-fire has brought to civilians, 30 aid agencies warn in a new report.
Russia, the United States, France and the United Kingdom - all members of the UN Security Council and the International Syria Support Group - could be key players in helping end the suffering in the war ravaged country.
Instead they have, to varying degrees, undermined their own resolutions through inadequate diplomatic pressure, political and military support to their allies or direct military action.
The report, Fuelling the Fire, catalogues the deteriorating conditions in Syria, as the country plunged into further chaos and fragmentation.
It has been signed by organisations including Oxfam, Norwegian Refugee Council, Carfe International, and Syrian organisations - The Syrian-American Medical Society (SAMS), Big Heart, and Syria Relief and Development.
“The last year was the most miserable yet for Syrians,” said Mark Goldring, chief executive of Oxfam.
“While the failure to end the terrible violence must primarily rest with those involved in the fighting, their international backers also have a responsibility to safeguard hope rather than fuel the fire. They have to decide whether they are committed to ending this catastrophe or to continuing its escalation.
We have seen the impact of airstrikes, now it is time to see the impact of diplomatic pressure - Mark Goldring
“We have seen the impact of airstrikes, now it is time to see the impact of diplomatic pressure in bringing peace to Syria.”
Despite increasing needs, it has been harder than ever to get aid to the most desperate says the report. Restrictions on aid access across government lines in Syria have meant that only 10% of UN convoys have got through.
While aid convoys are now reaching some besieged communities, bringing some temporary relief to hundreds of thousands of civilians, huge swathes of Syria remain without adequate assistance as aid agencies continue to be blocked, attacked or harassed by all warring sides.
Wolfgang Jamann, secretary general of Care International, added: “The undermining of commitments designed to protect Syrians must end. As well as insisting on respect for the cease-fire and an end to all attacks on civilians, UN Security Council members must hold to account those who break international law, and halt the indiscriminate use of weapons with wide area-effects in populated areas.
"Equally vital is to press for access to besieged areas so those most in need can be reached."