As Aleppo fighting rages on, UN humanitarian chief calls for immediate action

Published August 23rd, 2016 - 07:30 GMT
Smoke rises from a Syrian regime airstrike on rebel positions inside Aleppo. (AFP/George Orfalian)
Smoke rises from a Syrian regime airstrike on rebel positions inside Aleppo. (AFP/George Orfalian)

The United Nations humanitarian chief on Monday pleaded with the Security Council to intervene in Aleppo, where hundreds of thousands of Syrian residents are in need of aid amid a dysfunctional delivery mechanism.

Stephen O’Brien said the Syrian conflict is “the greatest crisis of our time” and that the population has been subjected to “unspeakable violence” including rape, torture, various bomb attacks that have devastated hospitals, civilian neighborhoods and deliberate starvation.

“When hospital attacks have become the new normal, when medieval sieges of entire cities and neighborhoods have become a lasting reality for hundreds of thousands of people, this Council cannot look the other way,” he said.

The UN submitted to Syrian authorities a request to reach nearly 1 million residents in August, but received approval for less than half of the requested locations, and not a single aid convoy has moved in August, O’Brien told the Council.

“What is happening in Aleppo today and throughout Syria over the last five years is an outrage against every moral fiber in our being as human beings, as fellow human beings, with every Syrian caught up in this unending cataclysm. And it is the failure of politics, of all of us,” he said, urging an end to “this humanitarian shame”.

The humanitarian chief evoked the viral video of 5-year-old Omran Daqneesh, moments after he was pulled from rubble following an airstrike that leveled the family’s home.

“Just pause for a moment and imagine this was your child, a child that has known nothing but horrific war. And his brother is dead. Omran was the ‘lucky one’ according to a local doctor. Lucky! What a word in such a context,” he said.

O’Brien also stressed the grave acts of attacking medical facilities, citing a Physicians for Human Rights statistic that documented 373 attacks since 2014 that killed 750 medical personnel. The data does not include figures for June, July and August, when attacks intensified.

By Canberk Yüksel


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