Security Council unanimously approves sending UN monitors to war-torn Aleppo

UN News– Alarmed at the “devastating” humanitarian crisis in Aleppo, where perhaps thousands of civilians remain trapped, the Security Council today requested the United Nations and other relevant institutions to carry out “adequate, neutral monitoring and direct observation on evacuations from the eastern districts” of the war-battered city.

Through a unanimously adopted resolution, the Council also requested the UN to ensure further deployment of staff for Monitoring and reporting on the evacuations, as needed and demanded all parties to provide these monitors with safe, immediate and unimpeded access.

Noting that that “urgent humanitarian evacuations and assistance are now needed by a large number of Aleppo inhabitants,” the Council demanded that all parties provide the UN and it is implementation partners with safe, immediate and unimpeded access to ensure that humanitarian assistance reaches people “through the most direct route, in order to meet basic needs, including the provision of medical care.”

The French-led resolution also calls on all parties to respect and protect all medical and humanitarian personnel, “their means of transport and equipment, as well as hospitals and other medical facilities throughout the country.”

The Secretary-General is requested “to take urgent steps to make arrangements, including security arrangements in consultation with interested parties, to allow the observation by the [UN} and other relevant institutions of the well-being of civilians,” and to report back to the Council within five days.

Thousands of civilians are reportedly awaiting evacuations to resume today.

Today’s decision comes after the Council’s two most recent attempts to take action on Syria: on 8 October, Russia vetoed a resolution that would have called for an end to military flights over Aleppo; and on 5 December, a measure calling for a seven-day ceasefire in the beleaguered city failed to pass after negative votes by both China and Russia. In all, Russia has vetoed six texts on the Syrian conflict, while China has vetoed five of those six.

Top UN officials have been sounding the alarm about the worsening conditions – and urging Council action to halt the violence so aid could get in – for months, culminating in Secretary-General’s Ban Ki-moon’s assessment this past Friday that Aleppo is now a synonym for hell. “We have collectively failed the people of Syria. Peace will only prevail when it is accompanied by compassion, justice and accountability for the abominable crimes we have seen,” he added.

As the Syria crisis enters its sixth year, civilians continue to bear the brunt of a conflict marked by unparalleled suffering, destruction and disregard for human life. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 13.5 million people require humanitarian assistance, including 4.9 million people in need trapped in besieged and hard-to-reach areas, where they are exposed to grave protection threats.

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