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UN investigators slam sluggish help for Syria quake victims

Panel says UN, Syrian government and other actors are responsible for delays in getting emergency aid to Syrians.

The United Nations, the Syrian government and other actors are responsible for delays in getting emergency aid to Syrians after last month’s devastating earthquakes, a UN-appointed commission of inquiry says.

The allegations, shared Monday, add to a growing chorus of criticism against the global body for its role in the immediate aftermath of last month’s earthquakes that killed about 6,000 people in Syria, mostly in rebel-held areas. northwest near the Turkish border.

The actors failed to immediately suspend hostilities or deliver life-saving aid through any available route, including for rescue teams in the crucial first week, the independent three-man panel established to investigate all violations of international law to investigate and record. in the country since March 2011, said.

“While there were many acts of heroism amidst the suffering, we also witnessed a massive failure by the government and the international community, including the United Nations, to quickly deliver life-saving aid to Syrians in the most pressing need,” Paulo said. Pinheiro. , chair of the committee, in a statement.

The statement added that the identified actors had failed to agree on a pause in hostilities and to allow life-saving aid through any available route, leaving Syrians “feeling abandoned and neglected by those who should protect them, in the most desperate times”.

“Many voices rightly call for an investigation and accountability.”

President Bashar al-Assad’s government took a week to agree to cross-border access to aid, the committee said.

The UN estimates that five million people need basic shelter and non-food aid in the earthquake-hit part of Syria.

“Syrians now need a comprehensive ceasefire that is fully respected so that civilians – including aid workers – are safe. Incomprehensibly, due to the brutality and cynicism of the parties to the conflict, we are now investigating new attacks even in the areas devastated by the earthquakes,” he added.

The Syrian conflict began in 2011. Since then, nearly half a million people have been killed and about half of Syria’s pre-war population have been displaced from their homes.

The report will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council on March 21.