U.N. body to blame for Syria’s worst year: rights groups

Last year was the deadliest yet in the conflict, with at least 76,000 people killed out of a total of more than 210,000

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As the Syrian conflict reaches its fifth year, aid agencies said on Thursday that 2014 was the worst of the Syrian conflict so far and that three United Nations Security Council resolutions aimed at alleviating the suffering had failed.

In a report entitled “Failing Syria”, 21 human rights organizations slammed world powers for not implementing a series of UN Security Council resolutions on the crisis.


Syria’s crisis, which pits President Bashar al-Assad alongside allies against a hodge-podge of divided rebel groups, started in March 2011 with protests against the government and descended into a civil war that has killed more than 200,000 people.

Three resolutions adopted last year urged armed actors in Syria to protect non-combatants and aimed to secure greater access to humanitarian aid for millions of Syrians.

“However, 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,” the report said.

Last year was the deadliest yet in the conflict, with at least 76,000 people killed out of a total of more than 210,000 since it began on March 15, 2011.

No end in sight

As the war enters a fifth year, there is no end in sight.

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

It criticised both rebels and regime forces for indiscriminately targeting civilian infrastructure, including schools and health facilities, and for limiting access to civilians in need.

The report, whose signatories included Oxfam, International Rescue Committee and Save the Children, said 4.8 million Syrians live in areas defined by the United Nations as “hard to reach” for aid deliveries -- almost twice as many as in 2013.

But as needs have increased, funding has not kept pace. Only 57 percent of the money needed to support Syrian civilians and refugees was provided in 2014, down from 71 percent in 2013.

Egeland told AFP that, in the coming year, the UN will need roughly $8.4 billion (7.9 billion euros) in aid for Syrian civilians.

“It’s one-sixth of the cost of the 2013 Sochi Olympics - so how could Russia afford the Sochi Olympics, but cannot afford sizeable contributions for this underfunded operation,” he asked.

Egeland said the international community could “struggle with the effects of the crisis for two generations to come.”

“We’re not providing any hope to millions of Syrian youth,” he said. “So do we then believe they will not be easily attracted to extremism?”

More than 11.2 million Syrians have been displaced in what the U.N. has called the worst refugee crisis in 20 years.

The population has shrunk by 15 percent and life expectancy has dropped 24 years, from an average of 79 to 55, it said. The country’s GDP has dropped by nearly $120 billion and four out of every five Syrians live below the national poverty line.

(With AFP and Reuters)

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