UN accused of taking sides in Syrian conflict

Ban Ki-moon

Ban Ki-moon

A Damning report has accused the United Nations (UN) of taking sides in the Syrian conflict and abandoning its neutrality by capitulating to the demands of the regime of Bashar al-Assad, including allowing it to veto aid deliveries to besieged areas.

The report urges the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon to set red lines for its humanitarian operations in Syria or withdraw its cooperation with the Assad government, saying the organisation’s failures have tarnished its legacy and enabled the regime’s brutal starvation sieges on opposition-held territory.

“There has been a systematic failure in the UN-led response,” said Roger Hearn, the former head of the UN Relief and Works Agency in Damascus, who ran the organisation during the first year of the conflict.

The 54-page report is titled: “Taking Sides” and was compiled by the Syria Campaign, a pro-opposition advocacy group. It is signed by over 50 Syrian civil society organisations and draws on interviews with current and former UN officials, as well as Syrians in besieged areas and humanitarian workers.

The report accuses the UN of prioritising its cooperation with the Syrian government “at all costs”, allowing the diversion of billions of dollars of international aid to one side of the conflict and thus contributing to civilian deaths in besieged areas that have been denied access to food and medicine.

UN agencies have chosen not to jeopardise their operations in the country and risk having their officials’ visas cancelled after confrontations with regime officials, the report alleged. Instead of unifying to demand greater access they chose to comply with the government’s demands and refusal to permit deliveries of aid, the report said.

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