The Associated Press reports: Turkey appealed to a reluctant U.N. Security Council Thursday for a safe haven for thousands of Syrians facing a “humanitarian disaster” as Britain and France said they would rule out no options — including a no-fly zone — to aid residents fleeing an escalating civil war.
But Turkish leaders held out little hope for the endorsement of a deeply divided council that has been paralyzed on taking action to stop the 18-month uprising that has killed more than 20,000 people.
“How long are we going to sit and watch while an entire generation is being wiped out by random bombardment and deliberate mass targeting?” asked Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. “Let’s not forget that if we do not act against such a crime against humanity happening in front of our eyes, we become accomplices to the crime.”
Davutoglu, whose country is hosting more than 80,000 Syrian refugees, said he came to the council with hope that its members would take “long overdue steps” to help suffering people and establish camps inside Syria for those forced to flee their homes.
“Apparently, I was wrong about my expectations,” he told the council. “This meeting will not even end with a presidential or press statement, let alone a robust resolution.”
The path to the council’s agreement on a safe zone for Syrians is fraught with obstacles, headed by the reluctance of Russia and China, Syria’s most important allies. They have vetoed three Western-backed resolutions in the Security Council seeking to pressure President Bashar Assad’s government with the threat of sanctions.
Reuters reports: France plans to channel aid to rebel-held parts of Syria so that these “liberated zones” can administer themselves and staunch an outflow of refugees, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said.
He said France and Turkey had identified areas in the north and south that had escaped President Bashar al-Assad’s control, creating a chance for local communities to govern themselves without feeling they had to flee to neighboring countries.
“Maybe in these liberated zones Syrians who want to flee the regime will find refuge which in turn makes it less necessary to cross the border whether in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan or Iraq,” Fabius said after a U.N. Security Council meeting in New York on Thursday.
However, civilians in rebel-held parts of Syria have suffered frequent deadly air strikes from Assad’s forces.
It was not clear how Fabius’s promise to allocate much of its future 5 million euros ($6.25 million) aid for Syria to these areas would protect civilians and deter them from fleeing.