A United Nations Security Council resolution to establish a month-long cease-fire in order to provide humanitarian aids in Eastern Ghouta was blocked on Friday by Russia. Representatives from Russia have rejected widespread reporting of mass civilian casualties in Syria. The Russian envoy to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, stated during a security council meeting that Russia would not support the ceasefire solution as reports of bloodshed are, “mass psychosis”. In fact, as he said, “the mass psychosis in global media outlets in no way does anything to help improve understanding of this situation”.
However, the rest of the world does not agree with the current stance Russia has taken. Local doctors and monitoring groups calculated that more upwards of 350 people were killed in Ghouta since last Sunday, indicating they are now in the bloodiest period of Syria’s seven-year-war. According to the UN undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs, Mark Lowcock, a shocking number of 50 civilians were killed just in the 24 hours before the meeting. In addition to that, Mr. Lowcock also mentioned that humanitarian deliveries to Syria decreased sharply in this year. In 2017, convoys could still reach an average of 175,000 trapped civilians per month, but this number has plummeted to only 22,000 in 2018. With these distressing facts Mr. Lowcock went on to appeal for help from wide global community. He believes that in such a disastrous situation access to humanitarian aid is, “not favors to be traded in a game of death and destruction,” and that, “Humanitarian access is not a nice-to-have. It is a legal requirement.”
As a matter of fact, Moscow has already vetoed 10 previous UN resolutions regarding Syria. Using its permanent seat on the security council, Russia has continuously protected Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from UN action on his war crimes. Such as in last November, when Russia used its veto power against a resumption of UN investigations into Syrian government forces’ use of chemical weapons.
This 30-day ceasefire resolution was put forward by Sweden and Kuwait on 9 February, owing to Russian objections the drafting of the resolution has been slowed down. Meanwhile in Syria, the government forces continue to pursue its offensive actions in Eastern Ghouta, which is controlled by rebel groups. With regard to that, the Deputy US ambassador to the UN, Kelley Currie, has accused Russia of, “appearing to be intent on blocking any meaningful effort,” to stop the bombing and save the innocent civilians.
As one activist in Eastern Ghouta said, “It’s a massacre. These are all massacres.” There is no denying that Syria is becoming increasingly bloody and deadly, and that the civil war is still showing no signs of coming to an end. It is not only preposterous but also inhumane that Russia continues to turn a blind eye to the bloodshed. Members of the security council previously hoped that Russia would abstain on this resolution in the face of grave civilian casualties, but it turned out that Russia has been a huge disappointment. In a matter of life and death, the security of mass Syrian civilians is much more important than Russia’s view on the credibility of humanitarian report. Hence, the UN should start the vote as soon as possible and mobilize the humanitarian convoy that is at the ready. Approval from the Syrian authorities should not be a priority anymore, and that is because President al-Assad has shown an obvious lack of concern for his own deeply suffering people.