Assad’s war of starvation

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BY JOHN F. KERRY

Just days ago in London, I listened with sadness and shock as Ahmad Jarba and leaders of the moderate Syrian opposition described how ordinary Syrians with no links to the civil war are forced to eat stray dogs and cats to survive a campaign of deprivation waged by the Assad regime.

The world already knows that Bashar al-Assad has used chemical weapons, indiscriminate bombing, arbitrary detentions, rape, and torture against his own citizens. What is far less well known, and equally intolerable, is the systematic denial of medical assistance, food supplies, and other humanitarian aid to huge portions of the population. This denial of the most basic human rights must end before the war’s death toll – now surpassing 100,000 – reaches even more catastrophic levels.

Reports of severe malnutrition across vast swaths of Syria suffering under regime blockades prompted the United Nations Security Council to issue a presidential statement calling for immediate access to humanitarian assistance. To bolster the UN’s position, every nation needs to demand action on the ground – right now. That includes governments that have allowed their Syrian allies to block or undermine vital relief efforts mandated by international humanitarian law.

Simply put, the world must act quickly and decisively to get life-saving assistance to the innocent civilians who are bearing the brunt of the civil war. To do anything less risks a “lost generation” of Syrian children traumatized, orphaned, and starved by this barbaric war.

The desperation can be eased significantly, even amid the fighting. Working through the regime, with assistance from Russia and others, inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons are proving every day that professionals can still carry out essential work where there is political will.

If weapons inspectors can carry out their crucial mission to ensure Syria’s chemical weapons can never be used again, then we can also find a way for aid workers on a no less vital mission to deliver food and medical treatment to men, women, and children suffering through no fault of their own.

The US government has undertaken significant efforts to alleviate the suffering. Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, the United States has led international donors in contributing nearly $1.4 billion for humanitarian assistance. Aid has been distributed to every section of Syria by leading international agencies, including the UN Refugee Agency, the World Food Program, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, and top-notch non-governmental groups.

Most of these aid workers are courageous Syrians who risk their safety to cross shifting battle lines for the good of others. They have performed miracles and saved thousands of lives. In return, they have been subjected to a catalog of horrors. They have been harassed, kidnapped, killed, and stopped at every turn from reaching the innocent civilians desperately clinging to life.

The obstacles exist on both sides of the war. Outside observers from the UN and non-governmental organizations have chronicled the ways in which extremist opposition fighters have prevented aid from reaching those in need, diverting supplies and violating the human rights of the people trying to deliver them.

But it is the regime’s policies that threaten to take a humanitarian disaster into the abyss. The Assad government is refusing to register legitimate aid agencies. It is blocking assistance at its borders. It is requiring UN convoys to travel circuitous routes through scores of checkpoints to reach people in need. The regime has systematically blocked food shipments to strategically located districts, leading to a rising toll of death and misery.

The UN statement earlier this month calls on all parties to respect obligations under international humanitarian law. It sets out a series of steps that, if followed, would go a long way in protecting and helping the Syrian people. Convoys carrying aid need to be expedited. Efforts to provide medical care to the wounded and the sick must be granted safe passage. And attacks against medical facilities and personnel must stop.

Merely expecting a regime like Assad’s to live up to the spirit, let alone letter, of the Security Council statement without concerted international pressure is sadly unrealistic. A regime that gassed its own people and systematically denies them food and medicine will bow only to our pressure, not to our hopes. Assad’s allies who have influence over his calculations must demand that he and his backers adhere to international standards. With winter approaching quickly, and the rolls of the starving and sick growing daily, we can waste no time. Aid workers must have full access to do their jobs now. The world cannot sit by watching innocents die.

(John F. Kerry is the US Secretary of State)

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  • Qwani

    Solution – send in the “International Criminal Court”. That is the medication that is prescribed for Africa, whatever the ailment may be.

    • wandia

      Distracting our attention & stepping into Kenya soil ought to speak for its self. Threats, intensifying the pressure until they submit seeing who is who in who say what to cause the movers of evil deeds run to execute? Fear only Allah not men who takes life out of a beings but Fear Allah for he gives life anew!

      • george mwaura

        this is the sort of fundamentalism the world ”super powers”listen to and respect.maybe the way for us Africans to follow;i hear Taylor saw the light and converted to Islam!

    • David Lang

      Are you surprised? John Kerry is all for the fall or even death of Assad. When he heard about the opposition – the so-called moderate opposition groups’ (who consumed dead soldiers’ organs for food) – allegation Assad gassed his own people, Kerry of course made more than full use of that allegation to drive another nail into Assad’s coffin. He criss-crossed the globe on Obama’s behalf to convince the world to support Obama’s surgical strikes against Assad – a very tiny strike – according to Kerry and his boss – just to remind Assad it wouldn’t do to gas his own people. We already know what had happened to the rabble-rousing. They were rebuffed by the international community. Not believed. Fortunate for another cahoot of Obama, Prime Minister David Cameron. The British MPs stopped him from joining President Obama and John Kerry in attack on Syria, thereby saving him from similar humiliation. When Russia proposed a way out (to not bombing Syria), Kerry and Obama rushed so hard they almost stumbled… to agree. The whole world held their breath, and then sighed a relief thinking cruise missile strikes were aborted in time. Actually the plan was dead still-born style. When John Kerry and President Obama were rebuffed – both by the world and Congressmen who took notice of more than 70% of Americans opposed to the plan – both of them, especially Obama, were frantic in trying to save face, if we haven’t forgotten! Of course, now every where Kerry goes, he likes to repeat “… for someone who can gas his own people.” The most they could do. While a prominent nun from Syria who swore it was not Assad’s side but the oppositions’ who gassed the Syrian people near Damascus …was ignored!

  • golditberg

    Assad is going too far. And Russia is just sitting there?

    • wandia

      Don’t see Assad but why Assad is fighting for his nation & people of Syria. The WEST EU & UN started all these evil deeds now twisting the facts as if its the leaders if even Nelson BABA is a living facts of their evils oppress them until the submit to your rules of the laws thus denying God’s decree to all mankind. Read the Quran to be guided who is who by disguising their evil & impose it upon others. Russia has being veto what do you need Russia to do?

      • golditberg

        The West and the East are a problem here. Those people are suffering merely because they are between power games. The West does not care if people die there. Russia should have gone in as well, just to calm things down.

        And Assad is playing a balancing act by using his own people as the sacrificial lambs. This is a real mess. Syria goes beyond religion. If only Assad could have enabled a real state of the people to exist, it would not end this way.

        • wandia

          Don’t even attempt to frame your mindset as program me to think. This was the Plot & Plans according to the Bible teaching thinking the are seizing the promise land but Nay! deceiver cursed blood thirst creatures on earth. The promised land will be only for prostrating believers in Islam. No men or any Prophets knows where it shall be as that is only know to Allah. What are you people reading when you have a complete guide of clear simple guiding ways of purifying the self from the curse of Allah like the Israelis ts. Worship no other God but Allah. Quran is a mercy to those with ability to read & reflect to cease from shedding blood of mankind but to listen obey & read the Quran telling all only one thing; Only one Creator the give of life. Israel ought to read the Quran or have their Palestinians who the are oppressing & sacrificing by seizing their land wealth or that of other nations like Syria, Africa this cursed will & can’t be impose upon others but its for the House of Israel for disobeying by following the footsteps of Cain, Satan. It is not Assad or Obama cease from impose your evil upon others who are actual fighting the evil imposed upon them by helpers of Satan. But you the house of Israel that is a cursed household, what do we means by the household of Israel all those disobeying the Quranic teachings.Disobeying to cease from shedding human beings bloods as the promises land is not their to seize or regain but shall only be for the pure obedient souls prostration in the creation of Adam listening to follow the command of Allah only one God. Allah only creator & give of life for the first time & will for the second time for those who follow the teaching of the Quran to purify their soul from all evil on earth.

          • golditberg

            One more thing, Israel what? I am a man of peace, and I seriously only want people to stop screwing up in Kenya, for the sake of KENYANS. The rest of the world should be peaceful so as to minimise immigration and foster development, stabilise economies, and make sure everyone has access to basic services. Do you have that yet…. Before ranting about Israel or whatever other nation? What country do you protect?

          • wandia

            Ranting…Israel believes in their own mad made evil laws with the supporters. Palestine, the seven Arab Nations Muslims States; you so targeted along side Africa for you to live has awake up & Justice will be delivered accordingly in full to even the ants of that land. Syria is a nations that Israel aims to destroy to live? Nay! what a shame have being doing it for hundreds of years. Away with your blood thirst for human blood Islam is the only one decree laws for all that exists even you knowing that your time is up? Submit to Islam to Live here maybe the hereafter for that is only with our Lord & Creator who some appear to ignore?

          • golditberg

            OK. Wow. You win? This is an argument you alone should win. Let us see…. will Assad kill more of his own people, without the help of Israel? Will this lead to more revenge attacks or unprovoked attacks by Syrians who are going back from Europe to Syria in order to fight with the aim of removing Assad?

            Is Syria really all about religion?

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