UN Unanimously Demands 30-Day Cease-Fire in Syria
5.6M people are in 'acute need' of humanitarian aid
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 24, 2018 3:29 PM CST
American Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, center, confers with members of the United Nations Security Council just outside the chamber before a scheduled vote on a resolution Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018, demanding a 30-day humanitarian cease-fire across Syria.   (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

(Newser) – The UN Security Council unanimously approved a resolution Saturday demanding a 30-day cease-fire across Syria "without delay" to deliver humanitarian aid to millions and evacuate the critically ill and wounded, the AP reports. The vote was delayed for two days to try to get support from Russia, which said repeatedly that an immediate cease-fire was unrealistic. Sponsors Kuwait and Sweden amended the resolution late Friday in a last-minute attempt to satisfy Russia, dropping a demand that the cease-fire take effect in 72 hours. The effort worked, though US Ambassador Nikki Haley was sharply critical of Russia for delaying the vote, saying it cost lives.

There is no set time for the cease-fire to take effect, but the resolution demands it be followed immediately by access for humanitarian convoys and medical teams to evacuate the critically ill and wounded. The resolution states that 5.6 million people in 1,244 communities are in "acute need." Sweden's UN Ambassador Olof Skoog told the council just before the vote that "the UN convoys and evacuation teams are ready to go." Sweden, Kuwait, and many other countries have been pressing for immediate UN action as deaths mount in a Syrian bombing campaign in the rebel-held suburbs of Damascus. The Security Council authorized one exemption from the cease-fire. It said attacks directed at extremists from the Islamic State group and all al-Qaida affiliates including the Nusra Front will be allowed to continue.

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