I have been following with increasing alarm the rapidly deteriorating situation in recent days in the town of Al Qusayr in Syria. This is being billed in the international media as a defining moment in the Syrian civil war, which has now claimed more than 80 000 victims, created more than 1.6 million refugees and placed nearly seven million people in need of humanitarian assistance.
I want to focus on the human dimension of this tragedy, the lives and future prospects of Syrians which are being destroyed. All right-thinking people will join me in appealing for all parties to this savage conflict to respect the fundamental rights of civilians to safe passage. All those involved in the fighting have an obligation under International Humanitarian Law to protect the lives of the innocent.
Of course these appeals have been made before but to little avail. Delivering humanitarian aid inside Syria is getting harder by the day. I am frustrated by the silence which reigns over the political vacuum which now envelops the civil war. The UN and ICRC in particular have consistently appealed for respect for International Humanitarian Law – and they have done so once more in the last 48 hours as the situation in Al Qusayr worsens. These appeals have been falling on deaf ears. In a moment like this we must together all raise our voices ever more loudly until our protests can no longer be ignored.