The agencies today released a scathing critique of the UN Security Council powers detailing how they have failed to alleviate the suffering of civilians in Syria amid intensifying conflict four years after the start of the crisis.
Despite three Security Council resolutions adopted in 2014 that demanded action to secure protection and assistance for civilians, humanitarian access to large parts of Syria has diminished and more people are being killed, displaced and are in need of help than ever before, according to the report "Failing Syria."
In the hard-hitting report agencies present a score card that compares the demands made in the Security Council resolutions last year, with the reality on the ground. The grim statistics reveal how the resolutions have been ignored or undermined by the parties to the conflict, members of the Security Council and other UN member states, leading to the worst year of the crisis for civilians:
- People are not protected: 2014 has seen reports of 76,000 people killed in the conflict out of a total of at least 220,000 deaths over four years.
- Aid access has not improved: 4.8 million people reside in areas defined by the UN as "hard to reach," 2.3 million more than in 2013.
- Humanitarian needs have increased: 5.6 million children are in need of aid, a 31 percent increase since 2013.
- Humanitarian funding has decreased compared to needs: In 2013, 71% of the funds needed to support civilians inside Syria and refugees in neighbouring countries were provided. In 2014, this had declined to 57%.
"The bitter reality is that the Security Council has failed to implement its resolutions. Last year was the darkest year yet in this horrific war. Parties to the conflict have acted with impunity and ignored the Security Council's demands, civilians are not protected and their access to relief has not improved," said Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council Jan Egeland.
Fewer people were reached via inter-agency convoys from Damascus in 2014 compared to 2013 (1.1 million compared to 2.9 million), and less than half of the requests were accepted by the government of Syria. Some assistance has been entering across the borders from neighboring countries, but out of Syria's 34 border crossings, only five are currently open for humanitarian convoys, nine are restricted and the remainder are closed.
"Across Syria, children are missing out on their education because we cannot reach them, many schools have been destroyed and parents are afraid to send their children for fear their schools will be attacked," said Save the Children's Regional Director Roger Hearn. "While heroic humanitarian workers risk their lives to give essential aid and services, millions of Syrians remain out of reach, not only because of fighting and a worsening situation but also because of lack of funding and bureaucratic hurdles."
The humanitarian organizations are calling on UN member states, including the permanent members of the Security Council, to go beyond words and ensure the resolutions are fully implemented.
"The Security Council's words now ring hollow. The last year has seen little concrete action from parties to the conflict and governments with influence to tackle the spiralling humanitarian crisis in Syria. What good is a resolution to a mother whose house has been bombed and children are hungry if it is ignored and undermined? It is time for powerful governments to stop fuelling the conflict, significantly scale up humanitarian assistance to meet people's immediate needs and push the warring parties towards a political solution. Russia, the US and other states have the political and diplomatic influence to make the changes set out in the resolution real; there is no more time to lose", said Andy Baker, who heads Oxfam's response to the Syria crisis.