New York– UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres reiterated his call for the need to refer the crisis in Syria to the International Criminal Court, accusing the Syrian regime of hampering the access of civilians to humanitarian aid.
In his report on Syria submitted to the Security Council on Tuesday, Guterres urged member states to support a neutral and independent international mechanism to investigate persons who are responsible for most dangerous crimes in Syria, in accordance with the international law.
“In light of the chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun on April 4 and the continuation of attacks against educational institutions, markets, religious sites (…), I am still calling for referring the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court”, the UN secretary general said.
The report assessed the commitment of warring parties in Syria to the relevant UN Security Council resolutions during the month of April.
It added that the UN was able to deliver assistance to 350,000 civilians per week through joint aid convoys, while decrying constraints imposed by the Syrian regime on aid delivery.
For his part, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien noted that while there were significantly fewer reports of violence in some parts of Syria, “the consequences of the conflict continue to devastate lives.”
He also called for ending attacks and obstacles that prevent humanitarian workers from reaching the hundreds of thousands of civilians still trapped in the war-torn country.
“We must not lose sight of the fact that – all over Syria – millions of people, in locations inside and outside the four de-escalation areas, continue to suffer because they lack the most basic elements to sustain their lives,” he told the Security Council.
He added that last week, 30 children and women were injured in an attack by ISIS on besieged neighborhoods in Deir ez-Zor as they were lining up to collect water.
According to estimates, nearly seven million children are living in poverty and some 1.75 million are out of schools with another 1.35 million at risk of dropping out, he said.
Almost one in three schools have been damaged, destroyed, or otherwise made inaccessible.
“And even if the schools were intact, many would be unable to open, with almost one quarter of the country’s teaching personnel no longer at their posts,” O’Brien added.