UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has warned that the use of starvation as a weapon in Syria amounts to a war crime after the second international convoy arrived to the famine-struck town of Madaya to deliver humanitarian aid. Ban said on Thursday residents in the rebel-held town, which has been under siege by government troops for several months, were in desperate need of humanitarian assistance.
“Let me be clear,” Ban told reporters, “the use of starvation as a weapon of war is a war crime. “All sides, including the Syrian government which has the primary responsibility to protect Syrians, are committing this and other atrocious acts prohibited under international humanitarian law,” he added.
Al Jazeera’s diplomatic editor James Bays, reporting from the UN headquarters in New York, said that even though Ban’s comments represented some of his strongest language yet after almost five years of war in Syria, this did not mean that any action was going to be taken.
“The UN Security Council will be meeting to discuss the besieged areas in Syria in an open session on Friday, and despite the fact that Ban Ki-moon has described these as war crimes, the Council won’t be taking any action on that,” he said. “A referral to the International Criminal Court requires a vote by the Security Council and it’s certain on an issue like this that Russia and China would use their veto,” Bays added.