On Friday, the Security Council of the United Nations heard testimony about the devastating effect that barrel bombs and other weapons have on the civilians that they are being used against in Syria.
The Syrian government is responsible for the use of barrel bombs according to Human Rights Watch and the Syrian Civil Defense. At the rate that they are being used, Staffan de Mistura, the United Nations special envoy to Syria said that at the rate the bombs are being used, there will be no more civilians left in Syria.
Since the war in Syria began in 2011, the deadliest time period has been since May of this year when 1,331 civilians were killed between May and now. Many of these bombs have also been used against health care facilities and ambulances, and mostly by the Syrian government. This brings the total to 230,000 people killed in Syria since 2011 when the civil war broke out between the Assad government and opposition groups. The addition of the Islamic State into the fight over the past year has also increased casualties substantially.
All of these attacks are occurring despite last year’s adoption of Resolution 2139 which banned the use of barrel bombs and called for an increase in humanitarian aid access in Syria. The Security Council was also unable to refer the war to the International Criminal Court due to China and Russia, allies of Syrian President Bashar Assad, vetoing the referral and three separate resolutions that would have imposed sanctions against Assad.
This is yet another example that would support those who are against many countries having a veto power still. After all, would it not be true that Russia and China’s vetoing of sanctions against the Assad regime is in a sense, the acceptance and support of what is now a humanitarian disaster in Syria with more than 230,000 dead, 6.5 million Syrians displaced, and over 4 million who have fled. Meanwhile, those who stayed in Syria are facing violence, food and water shortages and generally poor living conditions.