Syria ready to cooperate with UN aid resolution if it respects sovereignty
23 February 2014, 17:48
Syria said Sunday it is ready to cooperate with a rare UN Security Council resolution to allow humanitarian access, so long as it respects state 'sovereignty.'
The foreign ministry also said in its statement that the 'root causes' of the humanitarian crisis must be treated, singling out 'terrorism' and sanctions placed on President Bashar al-Assad's regime by Western and Arab countries.
The UN Security Council, which has been sharply divided over the nearly three-year-old Syrian conflict, unanimously adopted a resolution Saturday calling for humanitarian aid convoys to be allowed access across the war-torn country.
UNSC unanimously approves Syria aid access resolution
The UN Security Council on Saturday unanimously adopted a resolution to boost humanitarian aid access in Syria, where the United Nations says 9.3 million people need help, that threatens to take 'further steps' in the case of non-compliance.
The UN Security Council unanimously passed a resolution Saturday demanding humanitarian access and ending violence against civilians in Syria.
The binding resolution that makes provision for the use of force in the case of non-compliance comes after a deadlock in the council as Syria-allies Russia and China blocked previous humanitarian resolutions.
There had been fears up to the last minute that Russia and China would veto the current text.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the resolution, while at the same time expressing disgust that such a resolution was necessary to gain humanitarian access.
'If this resolution is implemented quickly and in good faith, at least some of the suffering can be eased,' Ban said after the vote.
Samantha Power, US ambassador to the UN, also welcomed the passing of the resolution, calling the step 'long overdue.'
'At long last, the Security Council has spoken clearly and unanimously about the devastating humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in Syria,' Power said.
Vitaly Churkin, Russian ambassador to the UN, said the current resolution, which was submitted by Western and Arab countries, reflects his country's views as well.
'The Russian Federation supported the draft resolution since when agreeing upon a document, many Russian considerations were born in mind and as a result, the document took on a balanced nature,' Churkin said.
The Syrian conflict, which began with peaceful demonstrations in March 2011, has cost at least 140,000 lives to date, according to the pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
UN agencies say that some 2.4 million Syrians have fled the country and 6.5 million are internally displaced, out of a total population of 22.4 million.
Besides demanding unhindered humanitarian access, the text calls for lifting the siege in several areas, including the Old City Homs, Aleppo and Damascus, to allow civilians to leave and get access to food and medical help.
The draft also demands that all parties stop shelling and aerial bombardments, which lead to large numbers of civilian injuries, and specifically calls for ending the use of barrel bombs, large containers filled with explosives and shrapnel usually dropped from helicopters by the Syrian army.
The main point of contention between Russia and other Security Council members in the past was the provision for the use of force, which Russia feared would allow other countries to intervene militarily in Syria.
The present resolution says that 'the Security Council ... expresses its intent to take further steps in the case of non-compliance with this resolution,' which is somewhat weaker language than that contained in earlier versions of the resolution.
Voice of Russia, Reuters, dpa
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