Statement by the Delegation of the United States of America
Human Rights Council
Delivered by Theodore Allegra
U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva
October 21, 2016
The United States welcomes this session to address the urgent and dire human rights and humanitarian situation in Aleppo.
Secretary Kerry recently described the situation in Syria as one of the “the largest humanitarian disasters since World War II.” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has described Aleppo as worse than a slaughterhouse.
And UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura has warned the city will be completely destroyed by year’s end. These characterizations must shock the conscience of us all.
And the brutal facts must shock us still further. Over 275,000 people remain trapped in eastern Aleppo. Russia and the regime’s recent assault have killed 400 people, including 100 children in markets, in bakeries, in schools, at water stations, in mosques, and even in hospitals.
Thousands are wounded and cannot access medical care. The people are starving and drink contaminated water. The handful of brave doctors and first responders who remain in Aleppo work tirelessly to save lives — even as they face continued assaults. The few remaining hospitals are overwhelmed; people with serious wounds are left on the street in body bags to make room for others who can be treated more quickly. This is the Aleppo of today.
Airstrikes by Russia and the Asad regime are the cause of this devastation, and they are the cause of this suffering. And let me emphasize, no pause can be a substitute for a genuine end to the violence and full access for humanitarian aid. So Russia and the regime owe the world much more than excuses. Why do they keep hitting hospitals and medical facilities, and why do they keep targeting children and women?
These shocking acts in Aleppo beg for an appropriate investigation and those who commit them must be held accountable.
The United States thus reiterates today our call for an immediate end to all violations and all abuses. And we reiterate today our call for accountability for those who perpetrate them — especially the egregious, the widespread, and the persistent human rights and humanitarian violations committed by the Asad regime against the Syrian people. Thank you.