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On Syria Aid Access, "Big Time" Talks in UN Security Council, Yarmouk News

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 7, updated 5:44 pm & 7:44 pm -- Amid reports that in Syria, aid deliveries resumed to the Yarmouk camp for the first time in six weeks, in New York Australia, Luxembourg and Jordan invited other UN Security Council members' Permanent Representatives to a meeting on their draft resolution at 5 pm on July 7.

  With no UN Television camera outside the Council - and no other media there -- Inner City Press asked Australia's Permanent Representative Gary Quinlan, "Is this the showdown?"

  Quinlan genially replied that this is "the big time." And many but not all Permanent Representatives filed in. How might the advances of ISIS or the Islamic State impact the talks?

Update of 7:44 pm - while meeting that began at 5 pm continues, here's what purports to be the draft, with buzz the Operative Paragraphs 2 and 3 are proving the most troublesome:

Draft Resolution text

3 July 2014

The Security Council,

PP1 Recalling its resolutions 2042 (2012), 2043 (2012), 2118 (2013) and 2139 (2014), and its Presidential Statements of 3 August 2011, 21 March 2012, 5 April 2012 and 2 October 2013,

PP2 Reaffirming its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Syria, and to the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations,

PP3 Being appalled at the unacceptable and escalating level of violence and the death of approximately 150,000 people, including well over 10,000 children, as a result of the Syrian conflict as reported by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict,

PP4 Expressing grave alarm at the significant and rapid deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Syria, at the fact that the number of people in need of assistance has grown to over 10 million, including over 4.5 million living in hard-to-reach areas, and that over 240,000 are trapped in besieged areas, as reported by the United Nations Secretary-General,

PP5 Deploring the fact that the demands in its resolution 2139 (2014) and the provisions of its Presidential Statement of 2 October 2013 (S/PRST/2013/15) have not been heeded by the Syrian parties to the conflict as stated in the United Nations Secretary-General’s reports of 22 May 2014 (S/2014/365) and 20 June 2014 (S/2014/427), and recognizing that, while some steps have been undertaken by the Syrian parties, they have not had the necessary impact on the delivery of humanitarian assistance to all people in need throughout Syria,

PP6 Commending the indispensable and ongoing efforts of the United Nations, its specialized agencies and all humanitarian and medical personnel in Syria and in neighboring countries to alleviate the impact of the conflict on the Syrian people,

PP7 Reiterating its appreciation for the significant and admirable efforts that have been made by the countries of the region, notably Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt, to accommodate the more than 2.8 million refugees who have fled Syria as a result of ongoing violence including the approximately 300,000 refugees who have fled since the adoption of resolution 2139 (2014),

PP8 Strongly condemning the continuing widespread violations of human rights and international humanitarian law by the Syrian authorities, as well as the human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law by armed groups,

PP9 Expressing grave alarm in particular at the continuing indiscriminate attacks in populated areas, including an intensified campaign of aerial bombings and the use of barrel bombs in Aleppo and other areas, artillery, shelling and air strikes, and the widespread use of torture, ill-treatment, sexual and gender-based violence as well as all grave violations and abuses committed against children, and reiterating that some of these violations may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity,

PP10 Reaffirming the primary responsibility of the Syrian authorities to protect the population in Syria and reiterating that parties to armed conflict bear the primary responsibility to take all feasible steps to ensure the protection of civilians,

PP11 Recalling the need for all parties to respect the relevant provisions of international humanitarian law and the United Nations guiding principles of humanitarian assistance,

PP12 Expressing grave alarm at the spread of extremism and extremist groups, the targeting of civilians based on their ethnicity, religion and/or confessional affiliations, expressing further grave alarm at the increased attacks resulting in numerous casualties and destruction, indiscriminate shelling by mortars, car bombs, suicide attacks, tunnel bombs as well as hostage taking, kidnappings, and attacks against civilian infrastructure including deliberate interruptions of water supply, condemning terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and recalling in this regard its resolutions 1373 (2001), 1624 (2005), 2129 (2013) and 2133 (2014),

PP13 Deeply disturbed by the continued, arbitrary and unjustified withholding of consent to relief operations and the persistence of conditions that impede the delivery of humanitarian supplies to destinations within Syria, in particular to besieged and hard-to-reach areas, and noting the United Nations Secretary-General’s view that arbitrarily withholding consent for the opening of all relevant border crossings is a violation of international humanitarian law and an act of non-compliance with resolution 2139 (2014),

PP14 Emphasizing that the humanitarian situation will continue to deteriorate in the absence of a political solution to the crisis, reiterating its endorsement of the Geneva Communiqué of 30 June 2012 (Annex II of resolution 2118 (2013)) and demanding that all parties work towards the immediate and comprehensive implementation of the Geneva Communiqué aimed at bringing an immediate end to all violence, violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international law, and facilitating the Syrian-led process launched in Montreux on 22 January 2014, leading to a transition that meets the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people and enables them independently and democratically to determine their own future,

PP15 Recalling its intent, expressed in its resolution 2139 (2014), to take further steps in the case of non-compliance with the resolution,

PP16 Determining that the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Syria constitutes a threat to international peace and security in the region,

PP17 Underscoring that Member States are obligated under Article 25 of the Charter of the United Nations to accept and carry out the Council’s decisions,

1. Reiterates that all parties to the conflict, in particular the Syrian authorities, must comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law and must fully and immediately implement the provisions of its resolution 2139 (2014) and its Presidential Statement of 2 October 2013 (S/PRST/2013/15);

2. Decides that the United Nations humanitarian agencies and their implementing partners are authorized to use the most direct routes, including across conflict lines and with notification to the Syrian authorities the additional border crossings of Bab al-Salam, Bab al-Hawa, Al Yarubiyah and Tal Shihab, in order to ensure that humanitarian assistance, including medical and surgical supplies, reaches people in need throughout Syria, and to this end stresses the need for all border crossings to be used efficiently for United Nations humanitarian operations;

3. Decides to establish a monitoring mechanism, under the authority of the United Nations Secretary-General, to monitor, with the consent of the relevant neighboring countries of Syria, the loading of all humanitarian relief consignments of the United Nations humanitarian agencies and their implementing partners, at the relevant United Nations facilities, for passage into Syria across the border crossings of Bab al-Salam, Bab al-Hawa, Al Yarubiyah and Tal Shihab, in order to confirm the humanitarian nature of these relief consignments;

4. Further decides that the United Nations mechanism shall be deployed expeditiously, for an initial period of 120 days from the adoption of this resolution;

5. Also decides that all Syrian parties to the conflict shall enable the immediate and unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance directly to people throughout Syria, by the United Nations and other humanitarian actors, on the basis of United Nations assessments of need and devoid of any political prejudices and aims, including by immediately removing all impediments to the provision of humanitarian assistance;

6. Notes in this regard the role that ceasefire agreements that are consistent with humanitarian principles and international humanitarian law could play to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance in order to help save civilian lives, and further underscores the need for the parties to agree on humanitarian pauses, days of tranquility, localized ceasefires and truces to allow humanitarian agencies safe and unhindered access to all affected areas in Syria in accordance with international humanitarian law, and recalls that starvation of civilians as a method of combat is prohibited by international humanitarian law;

7. Further decides that all Syrian parties to the conflict shall take all appropriate steps to ensure the safety and security of United Nations and associated personnel, those of its specialized agencies, and all other personnel engaged in humanitarian relief activities as required by international humanitarian law, without prejudice to their freedom of movement and access, stresses that the primary responsibility in this regard lies with the Syrian authorities, further stresses the need not to impede these efforts, and recalls that attacks on humanitarian workers may amount to war crimes;

8. Reiterates that the only sustainable solution to the current crisis in Syria is through an inclusive and Syrian-led political process with a view to full implementation of the Geneva Communiqué of 30 June 2012 endorsed as Annex II of its resolution 2118 (2013), pays tribute to the efforts of Dr. Lakhdar Brahimi, and calls upon the United Nations Secretary-General to appoint a successor as soon as practicable;

9. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Council on the implementation of this resolution, and on compliance with it by all Syrian parties to the conflict, within the framework of its reporting on resolution 2139 (2014);

10. Decides in the event of non-compliance with this resolution or resolution 2139 (2014) by any Syrian party to take measures directed against that party under the Charter of the United Nations;

11. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.

Update of 5:44 pm -- UNRWA Spokesperson, Chris Gunness said:

There were dramatic and chaotic scenes today as UNRWA distributed food in the besieged Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk  in Damascus for the first time in six weeks. We were authorized to resume food distributions following an interruption stretching back to 23 May. In about two hours of action, an UNRWA team delivered food parcels, bread, jam and vitamin supplements to 209 civilian families in Yarmouk.
The UNRWA team arrived at the northern Bateekhah entrance of Yarmouk at 11:00 hrs but was held up on account of security concerns. As the team waited at the Bateekha entrance in the north of Yarmouk, gunfire inside the camp reportedly resulted in non-life threatening injuries to two civilians. The team eventually commenced its work at 14:30 hrs at the distribution point adjacent to Rama Street inside Yarmouk.

The distribution initially proceeded in an organized manner in spite of the large crowds of expectant civilians surging forward in the hope of receiving food assistance. The flood of people quickly became overwhelming, bringing an end to the distribution effort at 16:30 hrs. The UNRWA team persisted in the hope that order would be restored allowing more civilian families to receive help. However after making a further unsuccessful distribution attempt at 17:00 hrs, the UNRWA team withdrew, having received assurances that food distribution will continue on 8 July 2014.

UNRWA welcomes the resumption of its food distribution inside Yarmouk. With the support and facilitation of Syrian authorities, we hope that the distribution of UNRWA food parcels will in future experience no further interruptions. This will ensure that in every working day of distributions, a significantly higher number of Yarmouk's civilians can receive the food and nutrition they desperately need so that their suffering can be alleviated.

UNRWA as always stands ready to implement a rapid humanitarian programme to respond to the immediate and longer term needs of the civilians of Yarmouk.

UNRWA will maintain its advocacy for continuous, substantial and safe humanitarian access to Yarmouk, and for the protection of Palestinian and Syrian civilians.

  Any impact on the negotiations in the Security Council?

  After UN Humanitarian chief Valerie Amos briefed the Security Council about Syria on June 26, Australian Permanent Representative Gary Quinlan came out of the Council to speak to the press about a pending draft resolution on humanitarian access.

  Quinlan said, “we understand the Syrian government has never made one single complaint to the UN anything other than humanitarian material was in any convoy, any humanitarian convoy into the country.”

  Inner City Press remembered there had been an issue with a convoy from Turkey, and an hour later asked Australia's Mission to the UN:

I want to make sure I understand something -- Ambassador Quinlan seemed to be saying there have not been any issues with anything other than humanitarian material in any humanitarian convoy into Syria. I remembered something, then looked up and found:

and, Al Jazeera:

in January 2014 "security forces had stopped a truck loaded with arms and ammunition on the Syrian border and arrested three people, including a Syrian. The drivers claimed they were carrying aid on behalf of IHH, but the organisation denied the allegations as 'slanderous.' Interior Minister Efkan Ala also denied the reports, saying the truck was shipping aid to the Turkmen community... IHH press coordinator Serkan Nergis said Tuesday's early-morning operation was launched by local counter-terrorism units."

My question: is it that the above-quoted report is not taken seriously, or that Syria never filed a complaint about it with the UN?

  The Australian Mission, through Chelsey Martin, to its credit quickly replied: “Ambassador Quinlan’s remarks referred to United Nations convoys and, as he stated, there have been no complaints made to the UN that their humanitarian convoys have contained non-humanitarian goods.”

  Does this mean that any pending resolution would only apply to “United Nations” convoys? Other issues: some say that Iraq, long trying to get out from under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, “has issues” with another Chapter 7 resolution naming it. Apparently not to be named is Lebanon. Watch this site.


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