Some re­lief at long last for Syr­i­ans

Pakistan Observer - - EDITORIALS & COMMENTS -

ON Thurs­day, the regime of Pres­i­dent Bashar Al As­sad in­formed the United Na­tions that it had given ap­proval for hu­man­i­tar­ian con­voys to reach all of the 19 cities and towns still be­sieged by Syr­ian forces. And late on Thurs­day night, an in­ter­na­tional aid con­voy was able to de­liver food to peo­ple in the Syr­ian town of Daraya, for the first time since 2012. Even then, it is too lit­tle, too late. It also re­mains to be seen if in­deed aid will now reg­u­larly reach the tens of thou­sands of des­per­ate, hun­gry and mal­nour­ished Syr­i­ans so badly in need of the very ba­sics for liv­ing.

Staffan de Mis­tura, the man with pos­si­bly the hard­est job de­scrip­tion ever writ­ten as the UN’s Spe­cial En­voy to Syria, stressed that the Da­m­as­cus gov­ern­ment had given such ap­provals in the past, be­fore ul­ti­mately block­ing con­voys from dis­tribut­ing life-sav­ing sup­plies. Ever since the open­ing salvoes of this most bloody and mis­er­able con­flict five years ago, there were calls for hu­man­i­tar­ian cor­ri­dors to be es­tab­lished, al­low­ing for trapped civil­ians who wanted to leave ar­eas of con­flict to be able to do so. Those calls have of­ten come to noth­ing. And when peace was re­stored even for brief pe­ri­ods, the de­liv­ery of hu­man­i­tar­ian aid was slow to fol­low the first mo­ments when guns fell silent.

Yes, it is Ra­madan and the Syr­ian regime has been true to its mur­der­ous form in the first few days of the month. There would be no blan­ket cease­fire, no end to the killing, no rea­son to stop, re­flect, think and pray. In Aleppo, the bom­bard­ment con­tin­ues in­ter­mit­tently, with one of the last few func­tion­ing med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties be­ing tar­geted in re­cent days. And in the out­skirts of Da­m­as­cus, anti-gov­ern­ment forces and those trapped in the rub­ble and the ru­ins make do with lit­tle food and less peace. Over th­ese past five years, noth­ing has changed the sit­u­a­tion on the ground. If there is any cel­e­bra­tion of this spe­cial month, it is muted, prayers of­fered and if­tars eaten in tents of refugee camps across Turkey, Jor­dan, Le­banon or any­where where the mil­lions who have left ev­ery­thing be­hind gather in groups. Yes, Da­m­as­cus may have given ap­proval for hu­man­i­tar­ian con­voys to reach Syr­i­ans, but it must do all it can to sus­tain that as­sur­ance. — Gulf News

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