After a weekend of intense negotiations, the Security Council voted unanimously today to deploy monitors to oversee the evacuation of eastern Aleppo. These monitors will be drawn from UN staff and workers from the International Committee for the Red Cross/Crescent and will be tasked with chaperoning the evacuees as they flee, including riding on the busses that are taking evacuees to safer havens. ”
The idea is that these monitors may serve as a deterrent to the kinds of abuses that have been reported after people board these buses en route to rebel held territory. Buses have been attacked, people robbed and even disappeared. Meanwhile, several busses were set ablaze over the weekend and evacuations halted.
Thousands of people are still trapped in eastern Aleppo and would likely avail themselves of the opportunity to evacuate, but have been reluctant to do so because of the uncertain fate that may await them should the board these busses. If the UN and ICRC monitors can deploy quickly, they may help ease those concerns and enable a safer evacuation from the city. “Getting monitors into eastern Aleppo onto these busses…that urgent implementation of this resolution is everything,” said Samantha Power after the vote.
In many ways, this resolution is both life saving, but also depressingly small. It took a weekend of intense negotiations just to enable a few hundred unarmed humanitarian workers to board busses. It could also be a preview of the role that the Security Council will play in the messy endgame of the Syrian civil war. Unable to stop the conflict for the last five years, the Council may now be entering a new phase of intense negotiations over mitigating the humanitarian fallout from the Syrian government’s victory.