UN aid chief to Security Council: ‘Shame on us all’ for failing to stop annihilation of eastern Aleppo

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Members of the Civil Defence rescue children after what activists said was an air strike by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in al-Shaar neighbourhood of Aleppo. File photo

Emphasizing that month after month he returns to the Security Council with new reports of ever-worsening human suffering in Syria, the top United Nations humanitarian official on Monday urged the 15-member body to act now and end the protracted conflict. 

I am more or less at my wit’s end […] I had hoped to say today that last month I put it all on the table and frankly it’s still just as terrible and leave it at that – shame on us all for not acting to stop the annihilation of eastern Aleppo and its people and much of the rest of Syria too,” the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O’Brien, said in a Council briefing held at the UN Headquarters in New York. 

“All the facts and reports I gave last month have not, not one of them, been changed, qualified, denied or proven wrong, by any one of you or anyone beyond this room,” he added. 

Mr. O’Brien, also the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, said that he has long called for a lifting of all sieges, which have become one of the most prevalent and insidious aspects of this merciless conflict.

This time last year, the number of besieged people stood at 393,700. Six months ago it stood at 486,700. Today, it is estimated that a total of 974,080 people – nearly one million Syrians – are living under siege. New locations included Joubar in Damascus, and Hajar Al Aswad, Khan al-Shih, and multiple areas in the enclave of eastern Ghutah in Rural Damascus, he said. 

Since cross-border humanitarian operations began over two years ago, the UN has conducted 420 convoys, or nearly four a week on average, delivering health aid sufficient for nine million people, including vaccinations for two million people, and food for three million people, many on a monthly basis, among other assistance. 

“Unfortunately, I must report to this Council that since the last reporting period none, not one, of our inter-agency convoys were able to deliver aid cross lines,” he said. 

In October, the Security Council failed to adopt two draft resolutions to end the bloodshed in Syria’s besieged eastern Aleppo. 

“I hear the argument that this Council should not pass a resolution because it would be ‘premature,’” he said. “It is never, never too premature to save a life. It is never too soon for you to find a solution to this conflict and end the suffering of the Syrian people.”

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