An unreleased U.N. report on how humanitarian workers lack access to Syria’s neediest civilians shows that President Bashar al-Assad shoulders most of the blame, a U.S. official told Reuters on Tuesday.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official said: “What the report shows is that the magnitude and frequency of violence committed by the Assad regime far outstrips that of the armed groups in Syria.”
The report was delivered to the 15-member U.N. Security Council on Sunday and included U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon’s opinion that the situation “remains extremely challenging.”
The document reportedly criticizes both the government and rebels for hindering access to civilians caught in the crossfire of the three-year civil war.
However, the U.S. official speaking to Reuters accorded more blame to the government.
“The Syrian government’s massive and indiscriminate use of violence is the single most important factor driving the humanitarian crisis,” the official said. “The report is very clear on this and in pointing to the government’s failure to implement the resolution’s provisions.
“It is the Assad regime that has repeatedly used bureaucratic obstacles, like visa applications and border controls, to block passage of humanitarian assistance,” the official added. “This is deplorable behavior on the part of a member state.”
Syria’s U.N. ambassador, Bashar Jaafari, rejected the “biased and ungenuine (U.S.) way of looking at the report,” according to Reuters.
He told Reuters that Washington did not “acknowledge the huge positive developments achieved between the Syrian government on one hand and the OCHA (U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) on the other hand.”
“The American approach has been negative from the beginning of the crisis in Syria,” he added.
According to the U.N. report, 175,000 people remain besieged by government forces and 45,000 people remain trapped by opposition groups. Also, no new ceasefires were brokered to gain access to these areas and there were breaches of existing ceasefires.
Ban Ki-moon added that some 9.3 million people in Syria need humanitarian assistance.
The Security Council is set to discuss Ban’s report on Friday with several council diplomats telling Reuters that it was highly unlikely that Russia would agree to declare Assad’s government in non-compliance with the Feb. 22 resolution. The resolution was agreed to by the Council to demand rapid, safe and unhindered aid access in Syria, including across borders.