UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil to vote on Aleppo ob­servers

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

UNITED NA­TIONS: The UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil will vote on a French pro­posal to send ob­servers to the flash­point Syr­ian city of Aleppo to mon­i­tor evac­u­a­tions and re­port on the pro­tec­tion of civil­ians, diplo­mats said.

The coun­cil will meet at to de­cide on the draft res­o­lu­tion, de­spite re­sis­tance from Rus­sia, Syria’s ally and a veto-wield­ing Se­cu­rity Coun­cil mem­ber. France cir­cu­lated a draft text late Fri­day stat­ing that the coun­cil is “alarmed” by the wors­en­ing hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis in Aleppo and by the fact that “tens of thou­sands of be­sieged Aleppo in­hab­i­tants” are in need of aid and evac­u­a­tion.

Thou­sands of trapped civil­ians and the last re­main­ing op­po­si­tion fight­ers in Aleppo were wait­ing for evac­u­a­tions to re­sume on Satur­day, a day af­ter the op­er­a­tion was sus­pended by the Syr­ian gov­ern­ment.

Syr­ian forces this week moved to as­sert full con­trol over the east of the city, which had been held by op­po­si­tion fight­ers since 2012. French Am­bas­sador Fran­cois De­lat­tre said the in­ter­na­tional pres­ence would pre­vent Aleppo from turn­ing into an­other Sre­brenica, where thou­sands of Bos­nian men and boys were mas­sa­cred in 1995 when the town fell to Bos­nian Serb forces dur­ing the Balkan wars. “Our goal through this res­o­lu­tion is to avoid an­other Sre­brenica in this phase im­me­di­ately fol­low­ing the mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions,” De­lat­tre told AFP.

The draft res­o­lu­tion would re­quest that UN Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral Ban Ki-moon quickly re­de­ploy UN hu­man­i­tar­ian staff al­ready in Syria to the city “to carry out ad­e­quate, neu­tral mon­i­tor­ing, di­rect ob­ser­va­tion and to re­port on evac­u­a­tions from be­sieged parts of Aleppo and pro­tec­tion of civil­ians inside Aleppo,” ac­cord­ing to a copy of the text ob­tained by AFP.

Ban would also en­sure the de­ploy­ment of fur­ther staff, ac­cord­ing to the draft text, which de­mands that Syria grant ac­cess to the ob­servers.

The UN chief would re­port to the coun­cil within five days on whether ac­cess has been granted by the Syr­ian gov­ern­ment, which has re­peat­edly blocked UN ac­cess dur­ing the nearly six-year war.

Pro­tect­ing hos­pi­tals

Evac­u­a­tions were ex­pected to re­sume un­der a new deal that would al­low civil­ians and fight­ers in other be­sieged towns to leave, ac­cord­ing to rebel of­fi­cials, ac­cord­ing to rebel of­fi­cials. The Da­m­as­cus gov­ern­ment made no an­nounce­ments.

The draft res­o­lu­tion would seek to en­sure the “vol­un­tary, safe and dig­ni­fied pas­sage of all civil­ians” from Aleppo and other ar­eas un­der UN mon­i­tor­ing and co­or­di­na­tion, with pri­or­ity given to the wounded and most vul­ner­a­ble.

It de­mands the pro­tec­tion of all doc­tors, med­i­cal work­ers, hos­pi­tals and am­bu­lances fol­low­ing re­ports that Syr­ian forces had bombed all of the med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties in Aleppo.

The text specif­i­cally men­tions the need to pro­tect the bor­der hos­pi­tals of At­meh, Dark­oush, Bab al-Hawa and Bab alSalamah, where many of the evac­uees would be taken.

The coun­cil would also de­mand that ur­gent hu­man­i­tar­ian aid reach Aleppo, which has been un­der siege since July. US Am­bas­sador Sa­man­tha Power said Fri­day that the ob­servers on the ground would pro­vide a “pres­ence as pro­tec­tion.” But Rus­sian Am­bas­sador Vi­taly Churkin said he found el­e­ments of the French pro­posal “ques­tion­able,” in­clud­ing whether the ob­servers could be quickly re­de­ployed.

Ban has urged Syr­ian par­ties to re­sume the evac­u­a­tion op­er­a­tion and al­low civil­ians to leave safely, say­ing “Aleppo is now a syn­onym for hell.”

—AFP

NEW YORK: This United Na­tions photo shows UN Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral Ban Ki-moon as he ad­dresses a press con­fer­ence, his last at United Na­tions head­quar­ters, as his term of of­fice draws to a close at the end of the year on De­cem­ber 16, 2016.

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