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UN humanitarian expert urges ceasefire in Syria for evacuation of civilians

UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos called on all parties to the Syrian conflict to cease fire [statement, PDF] in rural Damascus to allow humanitarian agencies to evacuate the remaining civilians and deliver medical aid and supplies to conflict areas. Amos noted that humanitarian agencies have been denied access to the region for several months in violation of international law, and the continued shelling and fighting in the area has prevented its complete evacuation. In her statement, Amos asserts:

"It is vital that all parties to the conflict respect their obligations under international human rights and humanitarian laws to protect civilians and to allow neutral, impartial humanitarian organizations safe access to all people in need, wherever they are in Syria."

Although more than 3,000 civilians were evacuated last week, many more remain trapped [press release] in Moadamiyeh.

The Syrian Civil War [JURIST backgrounder] has been ongoing since 2011 when opposition groups first began protesting the regime of Assad. In September the UN called for [JURIST report] an end to weapons being supplied to both Syria's government and rebels. Rights groups accused [JURIST report] the Syrian government of responsibility for August 21 chemical weapon attacks, which allegedly involved the use of sarin nerve gas. Syria's main opposition group in August urged the UN [JURIST report] to probe numerous massacres they say were committed during Ramadan by forces loyal to Assad. JURIST Guest Columnist Paul Juzdan argues [JURIST op-ed] that even if the UN Security Council decides to intervene in Syria, unilateral intervention would violate international law; a dilemma which, as discussed by JURIST Guest Columnist Patricio Galella, exposes the weakness [JURIST op-ed] of of the UN system of collective security.

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