United Nations: The UN Security Council on Saturday unanimously adopted a non-binding draft resolution to allow unhindered humanitarian aid access across war-torn Syria, even as UN chief Ban Ki-moon said it should not have been necessary since assistance is "not something to be negotiated".
The 15-nation UNSC met to vote on the resolution, co-authored by Australia, Jordan and Luxembourg amid uncertainty that Russia and China could veto the draft.
Russia and China support the Syrian government and have vetoed three previous resolutions backed by Western nations that would have pressed Syrian President Bashar Assad to end the three-year conflict.
The resolution demands that all parties, in particular the Syrian authorities, "promptly allow rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access for UN humanitarian agencies and their implementing partners, including across conflict lines and across borders, in order to ensure that humanitarian assistance reaches people in need through the most direct routes".
After the 15 nations voted in favour of the draft, Ban told the UNSC that he welcomed the adoption of the resolution, which if implemented quickly could ease "some of the suffering" and "prolonged desperation" of the Syrian people.
"This resolution should not have been necessary. Humanitarian assistance is not something to be negotiated; it is something to be allowed by virtue of international law," he said.
The humanitarian situation in Syria continues to deteriorate with half the country`s people needing urgent assistance, he said.
"Despite the dangerous circumstances, UN humanitarian agencies and our partners are reaching millions of people. But too many millions are beyond our reach. And funding continues to fall short; I urge the international community to step up its contributions," Ban said.
The UN chief said it is "profoundly shocking" that the government and opposition in Syria are "besieging civilians as a tactic of war."
US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power tweeted after the
resolution was passed that the UNSC "finally spoke" after three years of conflict killed over 130,000 people and left nearly 6.8 million people in need of aid.
"...After barrel bombs, torture, starvation & arbitrary detentions, UNSC finally spoke," Power tweeted. She said while adoption of the this resolution is the "easy part", nations must "now must remain focused on implementation".
"No more broken promises, delays or false concessions," she said.
Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos said the resolution would facilitate the delivery of aid to people in desperate need in Syria.
The resolution strongly condemns the arbitrary detention and torture of civilians, particularly in prisons and detention facilities, as well as kidnappings, abductions and forced disappearances.
It demands the immediate end of these practices and the release of all arbitrarily detained persons especially women, children, elderly people and including UN personnel and journalists.
The resolution also demands all parties in Syria immediately put an end to all forms of violence, and desist from violations of international humanitarian law, stressing that some of these violations "may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity."
The UN chief would report to the Security Council on the implementation of the resolution by all parties in Syria within 30 days of its adoption. It calls for "further steps" to be taken in case of non-compliance of the resolution.