Russian ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzia accused “various ‘opposition groups’ and terrorists through their proxies” of abusing the humanitarian deconfliction process. His country believed the UN should pass any relevant information to Syrian authorities.
“We do not see withdrawal as a threat to the humanitarian workers on the ground if information provided is accurate and trustworthy,” Nebenzia said.
Under the arrangement, the locations of UN-supported facilities and other humanitarian sites like hospitals and health centres had been shared with the warring parties in a bid to protect them. However, the UN has questioned whether it made them a target.
In a note to aid groups, seen by Reuters, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) confirmed Russia’s withdrawal.
It said all parties – whether they participated in the deconfliction arrangement or not – were still bound by international humanitarian law.
“If Russia thinks this will help them escape accountability for war crimes, they’re dead wrong,” said Louis Charbonneau, UN director for Human Rights Watch.
“We and other groups will continue to investigate and document the deliberate bombings of hospitals and other grave crimes in Syria.”
The UN note said “The United Nations is concerned about the withdrawal of the Russian Federation from the notification mechanism and is examining the implications of this decision for humanitarian personnel and operations in Syria.”