A letter, recently published in the Guardian and signed by 35 top legal professors and lawyers, calls upon the UN to defy the Syrian governments staunch refusal in order to allow desperately needed aid in rebel held areas.
The UN estimates that some 9.3 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian aid, 3.5 million of these are in areas which the UN has dubbed “hard to reach”. Furthermore, around 250,000 are completely isolated because of the fighting, of those it is thought that up to 80% are actively besieged by government forces.
To date, hundreds of thousands of Syrians have been helped by NGOs and other charities in the refugee camps which have sprung up in neighbouring countries. The letter reads: “The UN and other humanitarian agencies have long argued that many hundreds of thousands can only be reached effectively from neighbouring countries such as Turkey and Jordan. But the Syrian government continues to refuse consent for "cross-border" operations of this kind despite a clear UN Security Council demand that it do so.”
In addition, the letter is scathing of the UNs actions to date: “This appalling situation has been compounded by what we deem to be an overly cautious interpretation of international humanitarian law, which has held UN agencies back from delivering humanitarian aid across borders for fear that some member states will find them unlawful.”
The letter is signed by luminaries such as Sir Nicolas Bratza, the former president of the European court of Human Rights; Professor Laurence Boisson de Chazournes Professor of international law at the University of Geneva, Switzerland and Richard Goldstone, the Former chief prosecutor of the UN international criminal tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. They demand the right to deliver aid to where it is needed on the basis that, “In many of these areas various opposition groups, not the Syrian government, are in control of the territory. In such cases, the consent of those parties in effective control of the area through which relief will pass is all that is required by law to deliver aid”.
According to the Guardian, experts believe that up to 70,000 people could be helped immediately if the UN were to defy President Assad’s regime when it comes to delivering aid.
To date, Muslim Aid has provided around £400,000 worth of aid to Syrian refugees currently sheltering in Lebanon and Jordan. We have managed to get blankets, food and urgently needed medical supplies to those who need it most. However, with no end in sight to the conflict ravaging Syria, we urge our supporters to donate anything they can to ensure that we can continue to give help on the ground.
Nearly two million Syrians have been forced to flee their homes and the conflict itself only continues to get murkier and more complex as the weeks, months and years go on. Please, donate to Muslim Aid and help us to support and protect those in need.