Statement attributable to Massimo Diana, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordination a.i. for Syria, and Kevin Kennedy, Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis
The United Nations in Syria expresses its deep sorrow and mourning for the loss of life of humanitarian colleagues, struck by attacks last night while delivering life-saving assistance to civilians in need in Big Orem in rural Aleppo. UN humanitarian agencies share outrage at this attack on humanitarian workers, which also destroyed food, nutrition, health and other supplies urgently needed by thousands of civilians, as well as a Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) warehouse and health clinic. The impact on a population in need now deprived of assistance cannot be overstated.
The UN/ SARC inter-agency convoy to Big Orem was planned in close consultation with and had received all proper authorizations from the relevant authorities. Crucially, the route and location of the delivery were shared with relevant parties to the conflict as part of these procedures.
Yet, this planning was proved insufficient, humanitarian workers along with UN-contracted truck drivers came under attack while offloading supplies at the SARC warehouse.
The UN in Syria was informed of the attacks as they unfolded. Despite our efforts and communications with parties to the conflict, further attacks continued throughout the night, hampering efforts to reach and attend to the wounded.
There can be no excuse for this blatant disregard for the lives of humanitarian workers. Yesterday’s attack violated all basic principles of law and humanity. International humanitarian law plainly sets out the basic responsibilities of warring parties to ensure the necessary protection of all humanitarian personnel, facilities and relief assets.
While our hearts go out to yesterday’s victims and their loved ones, United Nations humanitarian agencies are needed now more than ever, and will stay and deliver for the people of Syria, regardless of where they are in the country. We stand with our committed and courageous Syrian partners. More than 13.5 million Syrians continue to be in need of life-saving humanitarian assistance.
We remind all parties to this conflict about their obligations under international humanitarian law to protect humanitarian workers and to ensure unconditional, unimpeded and sustained access to the millions of people in need, particularly those in besieged and hard-to-reach areas across Syria.