US Ambassador Nikki Haley on Tuesday rebuked the UN Security Council over Syria, saying the failure of a 30-day ceasefire should be a “day of shame” for council members.
Russia hit back that it was the only country working to turn the ceasefire into a reality on the ground in Syria, where government forces have recaptured nearly all of Eastern Ghouta in a fierce month-long offensive.
“This should be a day of shame for every member of this council,” said Haley.
She said 1,600 people had “died on our watch” in Eastern Ghouta since the council unanimously adopted a ceasefire resolution on February 24 after intense negotiations with Russia, President Bashar al-Assad’s ally.
Syrians continued to be taken on buses out of Eastern Ghouta on Tuesday in an evacuation the West sees as a strategy of starve-and-siege, directed against civilians to force a surrender of armed groups.
“After years of enduring siege and starvation, residents are surrendering Eastern Ghouta,” said Haley.
Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said the departures were voluntary and that Moscow’s forces were providing food, shelter and medical aid to those in need.
“Perhaps it is not to the liking of some, but in fact we are the sole member to undertake concrete measures to implement Resolution 2301,” said Nebenzia.
France expressed concern with the fate of 55,000 civilians held in nine camps administered by the Syrian government near Eastern Ghouta, without access to water or electricity.
“Their fate has not improved. Their hell has just moved a few kilometers away,” said French Ambassador Francois Delattre.
UN aid agencies continue to be denied access to Eastern Ghouta.
Sweden and Kuwait, which drafted the ceasefire resolution, maintain that it remains in force and are urging action to ensure the truce finally takes hold across the country.