[JURIST] Two senior UN relief officials expressed concern [remarks, PDF] Thursday about the brutal violence that continues to plague Syria as a result of the country’s internal conflict. In a presentation [UN News Centre report] to the UN Security Council, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Kyung-Wha Kang [official profile] explained that conflict participants injure the civilian population not only by killing them, but also by destroying infrastructure that leads to unnecessary suffering. Kang stated, “[e]very month we report on the same violations. The numbers change, but the pattern remains the same. The parties to the conflict continue to act with impunity: killing and abducting civilians; denying access; removing vital supplies from convoys. This pattern must be broken.” The report presented to the Security Council delineated the ways in which conflict participants, namely members of the Islamic State (IS) [JURIST backgrounder], take action to block access to essential supplies. Kang implored the Council to do everything in its power to continue delivering aid to people in need and for efforts towards deescalating the violence. Kang also asked for the Council to enable humanitarian organizations to give more support by increasing funding, as lack of available funds has been a major impediment to the efforts of organizations reaching the Syrian public.
The Syrian conflict is entering its fifth year, and has already seen almost 200,000 Syrians lose their lives in a civil war based around the legitimacy of President Bashar al-Assad [BBC reports]. The conflict in Syria has had devastating effects on the general population as a result of the extreme measures taken by both sides. In February of last year, human rights experts under the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights stated [official website, JURIST report] that both camps were committing crimes against humanity, denying civilians basic necessities of life and humanitarian aid. One month later, a panel of UN human rights experts presented a report [JURIST report] that depicted the Syrian rebel practice of “execution fields” where mass killings were committed through the use of barrel bomb attacks. In April the human rights chief stated that the Syrian government’s human rights abuses far outweighed [JURIST report] those of the rebels by a large margin. The international community has begun to take steps to support the victims of the conflict. Earlier this month, Amnesty International [advocacy website] urged [JURIST report] countries to show support to Syrian refugees by allowing them resettlement and admission to humanitarian programs. Just yesterday Sweden sentenced [JURIST] a Syrian refugee to five years in prison for abusing a member of the President’s forces.