Rights groups slam U.N. for Syria’s worst year

After five years of conflict and three U.N. Security Council resolutions, suffering in Syria has yet to be alleviated, aid agencies said on Thursday.

The report, entitled ‘Falling Syria’, features 21 human rights organizations that have scathingly decried world powers for failing to implement the Security Council resolutions on the crisis.

The Syrian Crisis began in March 2011 with anti-government protests calling for the resignation of Bashar Al-Assad, Syria’s current president. The conflict has since descended into a civil war which pits Assad and his allies against a plethora of rebel groups, many of whom have differing goals. The conflict has killed more than 200,000 people and caused an estimated 3 million to flee their homes.

Last year, three resolutions were passed in the Security Council obligating armed actors in Syria to protect non-combatants and to ensure greater access to humanitarian aid for the millions of Syrians affected.

The report, however, claims that the resolutions have yet to deliver their intended results. It says that “the resolutions, and the hope they provided, have rung hollow for Syrian civilians. They have been ignored or undermined by the parties to the conflict, other U.N. member states and even by members of the (Security Council) itself”.

Never ending conflict

The conflict is reaching its fifth year, but an end to it is nowhere near visible.

Jan Egeland, secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, said that “this is a betrayal of our ideals because we’re not supposed to be watching people suffer and die in 2015”.

The report criticized both rebel and regime forces for indiscriminately targeting civilian infrastructures such as schools and hospitals. The signatories, who include non-government organizations such as Oxfam and Save the Children, pointed out that around 4.8 million Syrians live in areas that are “hard to reach” for aid deliveries as defined by the United Nations. The number has doubled since 2013.

Yet despite the increase in the need for aid, the funding required to supply it has not followed suit. It is reported that only 57 percent of the total funds required for assisting Syrian civilians and refugees in 2014, falling significantly from 71 percent in 2013.

Egeland estimates that the cost of aid needed to help affected Syrians will increase to $8.4 billion in the coming year, which he says is a mere one-sixth of the Sochi Olympics in 2013.

“So how could Russia afford the Sochi Olympics, but cannot afford sizeable contributions for this underfunded operation?” he probed.

The secretary general also warned that the effect of the conflict would be felt by the international community for two generations to come. He said that “we are not providing any hope to millions of Syrian youth” who would be “easily attracted to extremism”.

The United Nations has declared the refugee crisis caused by the conflict to be the worst in 20 years.

Amid the crisis, Syria’s life expectancy dropped from an average of 79 to 55 while four out of five Syrians now live below the poverty line. ▪