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UN Resolution on Syria: Egeland indicate parties must show progress in next 30 days.

Middle East Security News.- Jan Egeland, Head of Norwegian Refugee Council.

Jan Egeland

Jan Egeland

Jan Egeland

Jan Egeland

Jan Egeland

UNITED NATIONS – New York — The U.N. in its second legally binding measure approved by the Security Council in the Syrian conflict;  unanimously adopted a resolution on Saturday ordering the warring parties in Syria to stop blocking the delivery of humanitarian aid, though without the immediate prospect of punishment for those who disobey.

The resolution, calls on the Syrian government to allow relief agencies to enter the country, decries the dropping of barrel bombs by government aircraft and strongly condemns terror attacks, plainly referring to some of the rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad.  The conflic has gone on for nearly three years, killing more than 100,000 people and creating more than six million refugees.

Britain and France, among Syria’s most biting critics on the Council, indicated their readiness to introduce a resolution calling for tougher measures in the event of noncompliance. In spite for certain disbelief from western countries, Russsia approved this resolution.  The countries pushing for the resolution were clearly aiming for a vote during the Olympic Games in Sochi to exert the greatest leverage on Russia. The Russian ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly I. Churkin, told reporters: “Of course we’re going to support it. It’s a pretty good resolution.”

However, inside the Security Council,  Ambassador Churkin made a point of saying that the Assad government had made “progress” in facilitating the delivery of humanitarian aid.

The UN resolution “strongly” condemns the “increased terrorist attacks resulting in numerous casualties and destruction carried out by organizations and individuals associated with Al Qaeda, its affiliates and other terrorist groups.”

In several places, the resolution “demands that all parties, in particular the Syrian authorities, promptly allow rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access for U.N. humanitarian agencies and their implementing partners.”

Monzer Akbik, chief of staff to the president of the opposition Syrian National Coalition, said the group welcomed the vote but doubted that the government would live up to its obligations.

For his part, the Syrian ambassador to the United Nations, Bashar al-Jaafari, said, “Humanitarian aid for Syrian cannot be achieved unless it is accompanied by an end to terrorism.”The most intense negotiations, diplomats said in interviews on Saturday, were over language on aerial bombardments, particularly by barrel bombs, which was a priority for several Western countries, and a reference to specific besieged communities. Naming those communities pointed to the Syrian government’s role in blocking aid.

By Wednesday, the three countries that had drafted the document — Australia, Jordan and Luxembourg — had decided that the time for negotiations was over. “Our bottom lines had been preserved,” one Council diplomat said. “We had incorporated a good deal of some of the concerns from Russia and China.”

Jan Egeland, the former United Nations relief coordinator who now heads the Norwegian Refugee Council, said the secretary general must be “ruthlessly honest” in monitoring the war.

“The test of whether this resolution is being implemented is simple,” he said by email. “All parties must enable real progress over the next 30 days in some key areas: by lifting sieges on populated areas and ensuring civilians in besieged communities access to humanitarian aid, by opening border crossings from neighboring countries for deliveries of lifesaving aid, by an effective system for approving humanitarian aid convoys to hard-to-reach areas, by cessation of attacks on civilian targets like schools and hospitals.”