Syria medical aid
Syria medical aidReuters

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon courted controversy again, with his comments thanking Russia for its mediation efforts in the Syrian and Ukraine conflict have invited the ire of Kiev.

Ban's statement, available on the UN's official website, apparently infuriated Ukraine, as its UN ambassador Volodymyr Yelchenko slammed the secretary general, accusing him of compromising his high-ranking position by issuing statements that "praise the role of the Russian Federation in settling the conflict in Ukraine."

Yelchenko went as far as to say the top UN official had lost "any moral right" to express his thoughts on Ukraine's ongoing military and political crisis, according to an article published in RT.

He also forwarded an official letter to the UN General Assembly seeking an explanation for the UN chief's comments.

The ceasefire deal brokered by Russia and the US that came into force on Feb. 27 has proven to be the most successful peacekeeping effort since fighting broke out in Syria in 2011.

Referred to as "cessation of hostilities," the ceasefire regime in Syria has been open to all armed opposition groups that agree to lay down their arms. Internationally-recognised terrorist groups such as the Islamic State group (also known as ISIS) and al-Nusra were excluded from the deal. At the moment, the number of rebel groups that have signed the agreement stands at 61.

UN biased?

A report titled "Taking Sides," compiled by the Syria Campaign, a pro-opposition advocacy group, has accused the UN of abandoning neutrality in the Syrian conflict and has alleged that it has vetoed aid deliveries containing food and medicines worth billions of dollars to besieged areas at the cost of prioritising its cooperation with the Bashar al-Assad-led Syrian government.

According to the report, instead of unifying to demand greater access, the UN chose to comply with the government's demands and refusal to permit deliveries of aid as the UN agencies risk having their officials' visas cancelled after confrontations with regime officials.

 "There has been a systematic failure in the UN-led response," said Roger Hearn, the former head of the UN Relief and Works Agency in Damascus, who ran the organisation during the first year of the conflict according to a report published in the Guardian.

The result has been that the Assad government has dictated which areas the UN can send aid to.
In April this year, 88 percent of that aid went to territories controlled by the government, and in all of 2015, less than 1 percent of people in besieged areas received monthly food assistance from the UN.

The report has been signed by over 50 Syrian civil society organisations and draws on interviews with current and former UN officials as well as Syrians in besieged areas, besides humanitarian workers.

The Syrian government has continued to ignore requests for aid deliveries despite it being a specified condition of a truce brokered earlier this year by the U.S. and Russia.

In 2015, three-quarters of UN aid delivery requests simply did not receive a response from the Syrian government.

The UN backed away from a threat to authorise airdrops into besieged territories, saying it would only do so if it received permission from the regime.

The UN, which has just recently been rebuked by human rights activists for shielding Saudi from a report that held them responsible for increased death of civilians due to its bombing campaign in Yemen, responded to the allegations.

"We have to work with the Syrian government," Stéphane Dujarric, the spokesman for the UN secretary general, said at a briefing on Wednesday with reporters.

"We have no choice. We've not been shy about saying when we've been denied permission. But, again, if permission is not granted and roadblocks are put in place, we … you know, humanitarian workers, whether it's the UN, whether it's Syrian Arab Red [Crescent], we do not shoot our way through checkpoints.

Opposition groups said that the UN is colluding with Assad in his government's enforcement of the sieges.

Labib al-Nahhas, a top official in the powerful militia Ahrar al-Sham, tweeted a repsonse: