Tuesday, November 5, 2013

"Strictly Confidential" Amos's letter to Security Council on Syria: Exert pressure on parties

Bashar Ja’afari (back, in grey suit), Ambassador of Syria to the UN,
listens as Valerie Amos, USG for Humanitarian Affairs, speaks to
journalists on the humanitarian situation in his country.
 25 October 2013
In this "Strictly Confidential" letter, Valerie Amos, the head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), called on the Security Council to take action on priority areas "where sustained attention from Council Members could help us to make an immediate difference on the ground in Syria."
This document was obtained by UN REPORT. Click here to read the original copy.

 Note to Security Council Members
    Following my recent briefing to the Security Council on Syria, I thought it would be helpful to set out the points I highlighted when summing up the discussions. One of the key messages is the need to learn the lessons from the Security Council’s handling of the chemical weapons issue and the success of that and understanding how these positive lessons could be applied to make progress on humanitarian issues. Effective operationalisation of the Security Council Presidential Statement requires sustained political support from Security Council members.
     Please see below priority areas where sustained attention from Council Members could help us to make an immediate difference on the ground in Syria:

* Use leverage with parties to the conflict to allow the evacuation of civilians from areas besieged by either the Government or opposition forces. The recent case of Moadamiyeh is an example of what is possible.
* Use leverage with parties to the conflict to facilitate humanitarian access to hard to reach areas under their control. Attached please find a map of the hard to reach areas where 2.5 million people are trapped and a list of the areas which are besieged.
* Exert pressure on the parties to the conflict to implement a weekly humanitarian pause or area specific pauses to access those in need, especially in hard to reach and besieged areas.

* Use contacts with the Government of Syria to enable the expansion of humanitarian relief  operations and lift bureaucratic impediments, especially:
a. Facilitation of visas for humanitarian workers, including for UN DSS staff;
b. Facilitation of customs clearance procedures for humanitarian supplies and equipment;
c. Facilitation missions;
d. Agreement on additional humanitarian hubs in Dara’a, Aleppo and Qamishly;
* Use contacts with the Government of Syria to facilitate agreement that humanitarian assistance can go directly to affected communities through the most direct route when supplies are imported from neighbouring countries, for example from Lebanon, Jordan or Iraq, rather than supplies first having to go through Damascus to then be redistributed throughout Syria;

* Exert pressure on the parties to the conflict to publicly declare that it is unacceptable to target medical facilities, staff and ambulances, and to occupy such facilities, and ask them to immediately demilitarize and evacuate such premises;

* Use leverage with all parties to the conflict to allow medical equipment, including surgical equipment, in all conflict areas;

* Engage with countries ahead of the pledging Conference in Kuwait in January 2014 to ensure adequate level of funding to meet increasing needs for 2014.
* Fund the winterization plan. The immediacy of the situation makes it a priority.
We are monitoring the progress being made in implementing the recommendations in the Presidential Statement. I will present to the Council a paper which will help Council members to monitor the timely operationalisation of the PRST. 
Valerie Amos, 1 November 2013"

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