|United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon (C) speaks after the UN Security Council voted on a draft resolution regarding the situation in Syria, at the UN headquarters in New York, on Feb. 22, 2014. The UN Security Council on Saturday unanimously adopted a resolution which calls for an immediate and unhindered access of humanitarian aid in war-torn Syria, where armed conflict has been going on for nearly three years. (Xinhua/Niu Xiaolei)
Click here for more photos>>>
UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) -- The UN Security Council in an unusual Saturday session unanimously approved a resolution, which "demands rapid, safe and unhindered access" of humanitarian aid in war-torn Syria, out of the 15-nation UN body's "grave alarm " at the worsening humanitarian situation in the Middle East country.
The resolution expressed "grave alarm at the significant and rapid deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Syria, in particular the dire situation of hundreds of thousands of civilians trapped in besieged areas, most of whom are besieged by the Syrian armed forces and some by opposition groups, as well as the dire situation of over 3 million people in hard-to-reach areas. "
It asked UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to report back in 30 days and every 30 days thereafter, "on the implementation of this resolution by all parties in Syria ... (and) expresses it intent to take further steps in the case of non-compliance."
Recent humanitarian truces were broken by attacks on those delivering aid.
The new resolution, sponsored by Australia, Jordan and Luxembourg, appeared more even-handed and rather than condemn Syria demanding "that all parties, in particular the Syrian Authorities" open humanitarian access to all victims.
Nearly half the country's population of more than 22 million people is in need of aid and there are more than 2.5 million refugees in neighboring countries.
More than 100,000 people have died in the Syrian conflict, which followed a political crisis that broke out in March 2011.
"Civilians continue to bear the brunt of the conflict," said the secretary-general in welcoming the resolution. "They are the daily victims of brutal violence and indiscriminate attacks, including the use of heavy weapons, aerial bombings, mortars and car bombs in population areas."
"There are continued reports of massacres and atrocities throughout the country," Ban said. "Women and girls have been subjected to sexual and gender-based violence."
"Syrian government and allied militias have been responsible for countless killings, disappearances, the horrendous use of barrel bombs and torture on a massive scale," he said. "Opposition groups have carried out summary executions, the recruitment of children for combat and the use of terror tactics in civilian areas."
"Attacks against civilian infrastructure, including schools and hospitals, continue unabated," Ban said. "These heinous acts are unacceptable and must stop immediately. All combating parties in Syria must abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law."
"This resolution should not have been necessary," the secretary- general said. "Humanitarian assistance is not something to be negotiated; it is something to be allowed by virtue of international law."
Ambassador Gary Quinlan of Australia said, Syria "has disintegrated and neighboring countries are threatened by the effects. Almost half of Syria's population need assistance. A third of the housing has been destroyed and over 60 percent of the hospitals destroyed or damaged."
He added, "2.3 million are now out of school and one in five schools are either occupied or destroyed. Medical workers and hospitals have been directly targeted and a majority of Syria's health workers have fled. At least a quarter of a million people scratch to survive in besieged cities and towns with no food or medical relief for over a year."
"The current humanitarian situation in Syria must not continue, " said Chinese UN Ambassador Liu Jieyi in his remarks at the Security Council after the vote. "China supports the efforts made by the international community, especially the United Nations, in easing the humanitarian situation in Syria and appreciates the contributions made by the neighboring countries in receiving large number of Syrian refugees."
But, he said, "Humanitarian means can offer only temporary relief of the suffering of the Syrian people. Only by seeking a political settlement of the question of Syria can it be possible to achieve a fundamental improvement of the humanitarian situation of Syria."
"The question of Syria is complex and sensitive and not easy to resolve," Liu said.
"We hope that the international community would stick to the political settlement of the question of Syria, insist on letting the Syrian people to decide the future of their country themselves, keep advancing an inclusive political transitional process, and continue efforts to promote the realization of national reconciliation and unity in Syria," he said.
For his part, Syrian Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari, in his remarks delivered in the chamber after members of the council spoke, said, "The activities of the armed terrorists groups, including those associated with Al-Qaida, are the main reason for the suffering of the Syrian people." he said.
"These armed terrorist groups are targeting in a systematic way the destruction of the infrastructure and destruction and bleeding of the resources of the country," Ja'afari said.
He assailed their "premeditated intentional targeting of humanitarian convoys and plundering repeatedly and systematically, as well as attacks against humanitarian workers, killing several of them, in addition to attacks and blockades against a number of Syrian areas, preventing the civilians in them from reaching any humanitarian assistance."
"The Syrian government like all other member states of this international organization is carrying out its constitutional right and duty to combat this terrorism which attacks Syria without discrimination," he said. "It's doing that based on international law and resolution of your esteemed council."
"Law enforcement, ladies and gentlemen, is in the heart of state authority, including combating and confronting terrorist activities carried out on our own territory," Jafari said. "Nobody can deny the duty of the state and its exclusive right to do so."
UN resolution on Syrian humanitarian aid "positive": NCB
DAMASCUS, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) -- A leading figure of Syrian domestically-based oppositional National Coordination Body (NCB), said Saturday that the recent UN resolution to facilitate humanitarian access to all Syrian cities is "positive" and could be conducive to bringing the violence in the country to an end. Full story
Kerry hails UN resolution on humanitarian aid to Syria
WASHINGTON, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday hailed a resolution adopted by the UN Security Council demanding humanitarian aid access in Syria, calling for its "full implementation" with actions.
"This is a resolution of concrete steps to answer the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today," the top American envoy said in a statement. "This could be a hinge-point in the tortured three years of a Syria crisis bereft of hope." Full story
China urges comprehensive implementation of UN Syria aid resolution
UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) -- China on Saturday called for the comprehensive implementation of a resolution adopted earlier by the UN Security Council to boost humanitarian aid access in Syria.
"The current humanitarian situation in Syria must not continue, " Liu Jieyi, China's permanent representative to the UN, said after Resolution 2139 was approved unanimously by the 15-member Security Council at an open meeting on the situation in the Middle East. Full story