Russia has quit a voluntary UN agreement which safeguards hospitals, medical facilities and humanitarian aid convoys in Syria. In terms of the agreement, the locations of such amenities are shared with all parties, so that they are not hit by air strikes and artillery fire.
Russia’s Ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, said “We do not see withdrawal as a threat to the humanitarian workers on the ground if information provided is accurate and trustworthy.” But the Middle East Monitor reports that this information will now, by all indications, be forwarded to the Syrian authorities rather than Russia.
The Middle East Monitor reports that Russia has been accused of a wide range of war crimes and human rights violations, in it’s support of Syrian President Bashar al Assad, since 2011. Russian air strikes hit and shut down two hospitals in Aleppo, earlier this year. The report adds that in May, Amnesty International revealed that Russia had over the past year destroyed various medical facilities as well as other civilian infrastructure.
Meanwhile, the United Nations had also, last September, detailed in a report how Russia, had targeted health facilities in Syria.
The UN Director for Human Rights Watch, Louis Charbonneau, said, in response to Russia’s withdrawal from the agreement, “If Russia thinks this will help them escape accountability for war crimes, they’re dead wrong.” He said that the United Nations would continue to investigate and document the deliberate bombings of hospitals and other crimes in Syria.
This past April, however, in what appeared as reluctance to hold Russia to account, it did not directly accuse Russia of targeting hospitals, simply saying it was “highly probable”.
Umm Muhammed Umar