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UN Security Council to demand 30-day Syria ceasefire to deliver aid

UN aid officials accuse the Syrian regime of blocking aid convoys to besieged areas. [Getty]

Date of publication: 10 February, 2018

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Rights group accuse the Assad regime of resorting to starve-and-siege tactics against rebel-held areas.

The UN Security Council is considering a draft resolution demanding a 30-day ceasefire in Syria to allow for urgent deliveries of humanitarian aid, according to the text seen by AFP on Friday.

The measure, presented by Sweden and Kuwait, would also demand an immediate end to sieges, including in Eastern Ghouta where a brutal bombing campaign by regime forces has killed more than 240 civilians in five days.

The proposed measure came a day after the council failed to back an appeal by UN aid officials for a month-long pause in fighting.

Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said it was "not realistic" to impose a ceasefire because armed groups fighting Syrian regime President Bashar al-Assad's forces were unlikely to uphold it.

Russia has repeatedly blocked action in the council that would put pressure on its ally Assad.

Diplomats say the proposed measure will be discussed on Monday and it could quickly come to a vote at the council.

It remained unclear whether Russia would resort to its veto to block the draft resolution proposing the 30-day truce, diplomats said.

The measure would decide "that all parties to the Syrian conflict shall immediately abide by a humanitarian pause and cessation of violence throughout Syria, for a period of 30 consecutive days", according to the text.

The draft demands that all sides allow medical evacuations 48-hours after the start of the humanitarian pause.

Convoys carrying food, medicine and other vital supplies would be authorised to make weekly deliveries to civilians in need, in particular to the 2.9 million Syrians living under siege or in hard-to-reach areas.

'Living nightmare'

UN aid officials accuse the Syrian regime of blocking all aid convoys to besieged areas since January.

Rights group accuse the Assad regime of resorting to starve-and-siege tactics against rebel-held areas.

The draft resolution calls on all parties to "immediately lift the sieges of populated areas" and "cease depriving civilians of food and medicine indispensable for their survival".

The UN humanitarian coordinator in Syria, Panos Moumtzis, on Tuesday called for the month-long ceasefire across Syria as fighting in Eastern Ghouta and Idlib escalated.

Western powers have expressed alarm over the regime's bombing campaign in rebel-held Eastern Ghouta, where 400,000 people have been living under siege since 2013. 

UNICEF said dozens of children have reportedly been killed this week and that life under such heavy violence had turned into a "living nightmare" for children.

The draft resolution expresses "outrage at the unacceptable level of violence escalating in several parts of the country," in particular in Eastern Ghouta and Idlib. 

Sweden and Kuwait - two non-permanent council members - are leading efforts to address the humanitarian crisis in Syria at the top UN body.

More than 13.1 million Syrians are in need of humanitarian aid, including 6.1 million who have been displaced within the country during the nearly seven-year war.

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