UNSC Must Ensure Protection of Yarmouk Civilians from ISIL and the Syrian Regime

On 9 April 2015, the Special Representative of the Syrian National Coalition to the United Nations, Dr. Najib Ghadbian, sent a letter to the Security Council addressing the urgent need for the protection of civilians in Yarmouk from ISIL's onslaught and the Syrian regime's indiscriminate aerial bombardment. The letter calls on the Security Council to take Comprehensive Action to:

  • ensure the delivery of rapid humanitarian relief to civilians in Yarmouk

  • enforce Security Council resolutions 2139 (2014), 2165 (2014) and 2191 (2014)

  • use the tools at the Council's disposal

  • stop the Syrian regime's indiscriminate aerial bombardment of civilian areas by authorizing the establishment of a no-fly zone

The letter is pasted below and a copy can be downloaded here.

H.E Mrs. Dina Kawar
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
Permanent Mission of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to the United Nations
President of the UN Security Council 

9 April 2015

Your Excellency,

On behalf of the people of Syria and the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces, it is with great alarm that I draw your attention to the humanitarian disaster currently unfolding in the Yarmouk refugee camp. Comprehensive Security Council action is needed to stop the slaughter of innocent civilians at the hands of ISIL extremists and end the indiscriminate aerial bombardment by Assad’s forces in besieged areas across Syria.

For the past two years, Assad’s forces have overseen a brutal siege of the Yarmouk refugee camp.  They have denied the camp’s residents access to humanitarian aid.  They have shelled and barrel bombed residential neighborhoods, killing and maiming innocent men, women and children with indiscriminate aerial weaponry.  The suffering wrought by Assad’s forces has caused a staggering 90 percent decline of Yarmouk’s population, from 150,000 refugees at the start of the Syrian uprising to less than 18,000 today.

The brutality and chaos generated by Assad has allowed extremism to fester.  As of 1 April 2015, Yarmouk has been infiltrated by depraved terrorist forces represented by the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). ISIL extremists have killed innocent children, detained women and children, kidnapped medical workers, and beheaded those that dare to defend civilians trapped inside the camp.  As a result of these illegal and immoral actions, local nongovernmental organizations have been unable to deliver water, food or medical care to civilians in need.  

The people of Yarmouk should not have to suffer one day longer. Comprehensive Security Council action is needed to end ISIL’s gains on the ground and protect civilians from the regime’s indiscriminate aerial bombardment.  On behalf of the people of Syria, I therefore ask that members of the Security Council work without delay to:

  • ensure the delivery of rapid humanitarian relief to civilians inside Yarmouk.  Refugees in Yarmouk desperately need food, water and medical care.  The Security Council should take the steps needed to provide such assistance;

  • enforce Security Council resolutions 2139 (2014), 2165 (2014) and 2191 (2014) and demand immediate access to all of Syria’s besieged areas, where over 440,000 people are currently living without access to basic food and medical supplies;

  • use the tools at the Security Council’s disposal.  If the Syrian regime denies immediate, unconditional and unfettered humanitarian access, the Security Council should impose coercive measures designed to ensure compliance with the Council’s will;

  • stop the Syrian regime’s indiscriminate bombardment of civilian occupied areas by authorizing the establishment of a no-fly zone.  A no-fly zone will protect civilians, and enable the creation of safe zones into which the delivery of humanitarian aid will be more feasible.

Your Excellency, the dire situation in Yarmouk is yet another reminder of the Security Council’s failure to adopt a comprehensive solution which tackles the root cause of the Syrian crisis: the Assad dictatorship.  Assad’s brutal tactics have both directly and indirectly contributed to ISIL’s advance, and prevented the delivery of humanitarian aid by UN agencies into besieged areas.  

Comprehensive action by members of the UN Security Council would provide immediate protection to civilians, facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid, and create the conditions needed for a political solution to take root.  If the Council will not shoulder its responsibilities, it is incumbent on UN Member States to take the necessary steps unilaterally.

Please accept, Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration.

Dr. Najib Ghadbian
Special Representative of the Syrian National Coalition to the United Nations

 

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National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces
Committed to a free, democratic, and pluralistic Syria.