LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The United Nations suspended all aid shipments into Syria on Tuesday after a deadly attack on a convoy carrying humanitarian supplies.
The Syrian Red Crescent said the head of one of its local offices and “around 20 civilians” were killed in the attack on Monday. Other death tolls differed.
The attack, described by rescue workers on the ground as an air strike, drew condemnation from much of the world.
Russia, however, presented a different explanation, saying it believed the convoy had not been struck from the air at all but had been destroyed by fire.
Here is some reaction from humanitarian organizations:
PETER MAURER, PRESIDENT, INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE RED CROSS
From what we know of yesterday’s attack, there has been a flagrant violation of International Humanitarian Law (IHL), which is totally unacceptable. Failing to respect and protect humanitarian workers and structures might have serious repercussions on ongoing humanitarian operations in the country, hence depriving millions of people from aid essential to their survival.
We’re totally devastated by the deaths of so many people, including one of our colleagues, the director of our sub-branch, Omar Barakat. He was a committed and brave member of our family of staff and volunteers, working relentlessly to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people. It is totally unacceptable that our staff and volunteers continue to pay such a high price because of the ongoing fighting.
TADATERU KONOÉ, PRESIDENT, INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF RED CROSS AND RED CRESCENT SOCIETIES (IFRC)
Today, the Red Cross and Red Crescent is in mourning. In solidarity with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, we are calling on the international community to ensure the protection of humanitarian aid workers and volunteers. We are not part of this conflict.
THOMAS WHITE, NORWEGIAN REFUGEE COUNCIL’S SYRIA RESPONSE DIRECTOR
This is an attack against humanity. It is not ‘collateral damage’ and there is no excuse for this horrendous targeting of humanitarian aid and aid workers. They were unarmed civilians, humanitarians, putting their lives on the line to help fellow Syrians. It is unbelievable that this could happen to a regular humanitarian convoy, giving detailed information about where the convoy was heading, when, how many trucks and what they were carrying.
Besides the catastrophic loss of life of our humanitarian colleagues, this means many more Syrians will be denied the lifesaving aid they have been desperately needing for months on end.
Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) is deeply shocked by the 19 September attack (… ) MSF strongly denounces this attack, another example of the continuous disregard for the basic rules of war in the Syrian conflict, and demands that all warring parties involved in the conflict in Syria respect humanitarian workers and civilians, health facilities and civilian infrastructures.
We demand that the major international powers involved in this conflict assume their responsibilities and take more concrete steps to put an end to all attacks against civilian infrastructure, including medical facilities and aid convoys.
The death of those who are trying to bring hope to a country which has known little more than conflict, violence and hunger for six years is yet another act of barbarity. The result is that more people in Syria will now go without the lifesaving support they need. We will only solve this humanitarian crisis if a lasting solution to the conflict can be found.
Reporting by Pietro Lombardi; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit news.trust.org