United Nations delays vote on Syria humanitarian cease-fire

24 February, 2018, 10:13 | Author: Nina Hammond
  • The UN is due to vote on a ceasefire

After a day of hectic negotiations and three delays, the 10 elected members of the UN Security Council (UNSC) failed to get its five permanent members to compromise on a resolution for a 30-day ceasefire in war-torn Syria and to allow humanitarian aid to reach besieged areas.

More than 400 people have been killed since Sunday in the relentless bombardment of Eastern Ghouta, an enclave near the capital Damascus.

On Friday, the densely populated enclave was bombed for a sixth straight day, witnesses said. These are civilians. They are ordinary people under attack by a barbaric Assad regime that is bent on leaving eastern Ghouta levelled to the ground, with no regard for the 400,000 men, women, and children who live there,  she added.

"We are still working on the language, on some of the paragraphs, but we are nearly there", Kuwait's Ambassador Mansour al-Otaibi, who holds the presidency this month, said.

One of the stumbling blocks was a Russian demand that rebel groups fighting President Bashar al Assad's forces comply with the truce.

Russian Federation has vetoed 11 draft resolutions on Syria to block action that targeted its ally in Damascus.

Germany and France were among the nations to ratchet up the pressure on Russia, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron asking Russian President Vladimir Putin to support the resolution.

U.N. Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura has called again for an urgent ceasefire to relieve the "appalling suffering" of civilians in eastern suburbs of the Syrian capital Damascus by stopping the bombing there and the "indiscriminate" mortar shelling of Syria's capital Damascus.

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Russia, Turkey and Iran in 2017 had designated Eastern Ghouta as a "de-escalation zone", meaning civilians could reside there without being targeted by any party in Syria's war.

"The air strikes and the artillery fire are continuing on several towns in Eastern Ghouta", Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the Britain-based monitoring group, told AFP.

"There are (no) answers to the questions of the guarantees that militants will obey this humanitarian pause and that they will not continue shelling the residential districts of Damascus".

"We refuse categorically any initiative that includes getting the residents out of their homes and moving them elsewhere", Ghouta rebel factions wrote in a letter to the Security Council yesterday.

The initial resolution called for the ceasefire to begin 72 hours after its adoption, but diplomats continued discussions into the night about the final wording.

Doctors Without Borders said 13 of the facilities it supports in Eastern Ghouta were damaged or destroyed in airstrikes this week.

She said over the past three months more than 2,000 civilians have been killed, almost 5,000 wounded and 32 medical centers and clinics have been destroyed. Opposition activists say Russian warplanes are taking part in the bombing of eastern Ghouta.

On the USA role in Syria, he said, "We're there for one reason: We're there to get (IS) and get rid of (IS) and go home".

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