UN chief condemns Syria aid convoy attack

Ban Ki Moon calls ‘deliberate’ strike, which left one aid worker and 20 civilians dead, a new low in ongoing conflict

UN secretary-general Ban Ki Moon has described an attack on a Syrian aid convoy that killed an aid worker and around 20 civilians as “sickening, savage and apparently deliberate”.

In his farewell address to the UN general assembly, Ban called the bombers behind the strike “cowards” and hailed the aid workers as heroes, before urging accountability for crimes committed during the war in Syria.

“Just when we think it cannot get any worse, the bar of depravity sinks lower,” he said. “I appeal to all those with influence to end the fighting and get talks started.”

"Those supplies were for children who have already suffered more than five years or war” The strike hit a convoy of Syrian Red Crescent trucks carrying food, medicine and other UN supplies to a rural area near Aleppo, destroying 18 of 31 vehicles and a warehouse. Victims included the local director of the Syrian Red Crescent, Omar Barakat.

The attack caused the United Nations to suspend all aid shipments into Syria, with officials describing it as a possible war crime.

Executive director of Unicef Anthony Lake said the attack had disrupted the delivery of supplies to tens of thousands of people in extreme need.

“Those supplies were for children who have already suffered more than five years or war,” he said in a statement. “Five years of callous disregard for their lives, their wellbeing and their future.”

“There has been a flagrant violation of International Humanitarian Law (IHL), which is totally unacceptable,” Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said in a statement. “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.”

Ban also used his final address to the annual gathering of world leaders in New York to criticize global governments for failing to halt – and in some cases for perpetuating – the crisis in Syria.

“In today’s world, the conflict in Syria is taking the greatest number of lives, and sowing the widest instability,” he said. “A political transition is long overdue.”