Published: Sun, March 04, 2018
Money | By Wilma Wheeler

Syria: UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock lambasts security council on Ghouta ceasefire

Syria: UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock lambasts security council on Ghouta ceasefire

The continued fighting has undermined a daily five-hour local cease-fire ordered by Russian Federation, which is meant to facilitate the delivery of aid and the evacuation of civilians, who have been trapped in the besieged suburbs since Damascus stepped up attacks on the region last month. While the relentless bombing has subsided in eastern Ghouta, home to around 400,000 civilians, the Syrian government's push to squeeze the insurgents out of the region continued.

During Thursday's meeting of the humanitarian taskforce in Geneva, the United Nations received notice that it may get permission from Damascus to go to Douma in eastern Ghouta. He was sharply critical of the West, and especially the United States, for fancying themselves as "champions of humanity" and saying a cease-fire depends nearly entirely on Russian Federation and Syria.

Russia's UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia reminded the council that the resolution adopted Saturday also demands that all parties "engage immediately to ensure full and comprehensive implementation" of the cease-fire - and "underscores the need for the parties to agree on humanitarian pauses ... and truces". But no civilians have left, and no humanitarian aid has entered.

"The terrorists are impeding those who want to cross, either by putting pressure on them or by firing on the humanitarian corridors", the military officer said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "It could be extended but why go on if there are no results", he said. Rebels deny this, and say people will not depart eastern Ghouta because they fear the government.

The UN Security Council was due to meet Wednesday afternoon to discuss the humanitarian situation and hear from UN aid chief Mark Lowcock.

Putin pointed out that in the region there were quite a few extremist forces and members of terrorist organisations that had been included in the corresponding United Nations lists and the latest resolution by the UNSC that the struggle against these organisations must go on.

Since late February, Assad regime, Russian Federation and Iran-backed militia have intensified their attacks on the enclave, killing over 600 civilians as of Wednesday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

He said regime forces took advantage of the "intensive bombardment and the clashes on the edge of Eastern Ghouta to make a limited advance in the Hosh al-Zawahira and Shaifuniyeh districts". He further said that efforts must be made to "effectively neutralise" the presence of the al-Qaeda offshoot in Eastern Ghouta, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, earlier known as Nusra Front.

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