Syria investigators add voice to aid access call

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Carla del Ponte and Paolo Pinheiro from the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria. Photo: UN Photo: Jean-Marc Ferré

The truce in Syria that was brokered by Russia and the United States must be accompanied by "unimpeded, sustained and rapid" aid access, UN war crimes investigators said Monday.

Heading the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria, Paulo Pinheiro told Member States at the Human Rights Council in Geneva that humanitarian assistance must not be allowed to become a political issue.

Here's Daniel Johnson's report.

Presenting his 15th report to the UN Human Rights Council and with the Syrian conflict in its sixth year, Paulo Pinheiro underlined that every day the war goes on is "one more day of unimaginable suffering" for the country's men, women and children.

The UN Commission of Inquiry chairman said that the near week-old truce there had created a "glimmer of hope", with far fewer civilian casualties.

But Mr Pinheiro recalled how a cessation of hostilities earlier in the year had broken down as warring parties returned to the battlefield:

"A similar pact to reduce violence reached last February brought respite from violations that faded all too quickly…That Syria is the battleground for the interests of so many actors leaves civilians the primary victims of rampant war crimes and crimes against humanity."

The issue of delivering vital food and medicines to nearly 600,000 people under siege continues to hamper hopes for a lasting cessation of hostilities.

While calling the use of siege tactics "beyond unconscionable", Paulo Pinheiro said that roadblocks made of red tape are "just as effective" as those involving "weapons of war".

Meanwhile, the UN investigator said that the work of recording rights violations goes on, including on reports from the Syrian government ISIL fighters have created mass graves in Palmyra.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 1'18" 

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