by Xinhua writer Gu Zhenqiu
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters here Wednesday the United Nations and Syrian Arab Red Crescent operations are underway to deliver life-saving humanitarian assistance to more than 100,000 people in Syria.
“The inter-agency convoys are carrying food supplies, medicine and health and nutrition assistance,” he said. “Further details will be made available once the convoys have safely reached their destinations.”
The latest development on the ground showed an initial progress in the efforts to carry out an agreement reached by world powers in Munich, Germany, Friday — a “cessation of hostilities” to go into effect in a week, this Thursday, and the immediate start of humanitarian aid convoys to five of the seven besieged areas in Syria — Moadamiyeh, Madaya and Zabadani near the Syrian capital Damascus, and Foah and Kafraya in Idleb of northwestern Syria.
In fact, the progress came as a product of cooperation between the Syrian government and the United Nations.
On Tuesday, the UN special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, won the green light from Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem during his surprise visit to the Syrian capital of Damascus to deliver humanitarian aid to besieged areas in the war-torn country, where a political crisis and subsequent civil war broke out in March 2011.
Such cooperation is also necessary between the Syrian opposition and the United Nations at a time when the world body said almost 500,000 people live in besieged areas in Syria. At this moment, collaboration is measured by safe, unhindered access to all seven besieged areas in the country.
Further Syrian-UN cooperation is needed as aid convoys are on the way to their destinations in either government-held or opposition-controlled areas.
To achieve the goal, the Syrian government and opposition need to build trust after nearly six years of bloody conflict in the country.
The aid delivery began just days after representatives from the 17-member International Syria Support Group (ISSG), including Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, reached the agreement in Munich a week ago. The accord is hard-earned, and it also represents a product of a delicate balance of interests.
The relevant parties in Syria, including the government and opposition, should seize the historical opportunity, swiftly restart the UN-mediated negotiations and push forward the political process in the Middle East country in a bid to bring an early end to the conflict, in which the United Nations estimates more than 250,000 people were killed.
The conflict also prompted more than 4 million people to flee the country. An additional 6.5 million have been internally displaced and 13.5 million people inside the country are in dire need of humanitarian aid.
Meanwhile, terrorist groups, such as the Islamic State (IS), have taken advantage of the turmoil in Syria and grown stronger, posing an unprecedented security challenge to international peace and security.
On the other hand, the international community should keep alive the current momentum for a political solution and make sure that relevant political process will deliver really positive results on the ground.
The cooperation is not easy to come by as the warring parties — the Syrian government and the opposition — just entered indirect talks in Geneva under UN auspices. Furhtermore, the negotiations, mediated by de Mistura, were suspended earlier this month.
This kind of cooperation is also needed from regional powers which are supporting various sides in the Syrian conflict. Therefore, they, in particular those who have a clout on the situation in Syria, should stop blaming each other and play a constructive role in implementing the Munich agreement so that a ceasefire can be observed and humanitarian aid can be delivered to the Syrian people in need.
Relatively, cooperation on humanitarian assistance is not easy, but concerted efforts by all relevant factions to ensure a truce are even more difficult.
Just as Dujarric put it, the cessation of hostilities is simple in comparison to a ceasefire, which he said is “a complex process,” which should be negotiated by the parties concerned to stop violence.
Ending hostilities could be the first step to enter into a ceasefire in Syria.
Indeed, it is very hard to ask all the warring parties in Syria to put down their guns and join hands in efforts to bring peace and stability back into the country. Trust-building in this regard is the prelude to cooperation.
Therefore, all parties in Syria should act in the interests of the Syrian people and try to overcome difficulties to restart peace talks as soon as possible, so that the Syrian people can decide on their own future. In short, it is imperative for them to seek the greatest common factor to strive for the best results. Enditem