France Aims to Erect Humanitarian Corridors in Syria

The French call for international action in order to allow food and medicine to reach civilians in Syria.

France on Wednesday again raised the possibility to securing humanitarian corridors in Syria to alleviate civilian suffering in the wartorn Middle Eastern country.

Paris suggested to create a safe passage for relief organizations in November of last year to allow food and medicine to reach civilians who are caught up in the nearly yearlong struggle between anti-government militias and forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.

“The idea of humanitarian corridors that I previously proposed, to allow NGOs to reach the zones where there are scandalous massacres, should be discussed at the Security Council,” Alain Juppé, the French foreign minister, said in a radio interview.

China and Russia wary

China and Russia, two veto-wielding Security Council members, have twice blocked attempts by the United Nations to intervene in Syria’s civil war.

The Russian foreign minister, when asked about the French plan, reiterated his government’s insistence that international action should not “help legitimize” regime change in Damascus.

Corridors

The French would have humanitarian corridors link Syrian population centers to the borders of Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey or to a zone on the Mediterranean coast that is protected by “observers.”

Juppé ruled out an armed intervention but conceded that a buffer zone may need to be defended with force.

Mixed record

The United Nations previously erected humanitarian corridors in Angola to enable the passage of aid and nongovernmental personnel there in 1993.

It also aimed to protect a “safe area” in Srebrenica, Bosnia, during the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1995, but the Dutch peacekeepers there could not prevent a massacre of more than 8,000 civilians who were supposed to be protected in the enclave.

Turkey’s role

The Turks have allowed Syrians to cross their southern border to flee the violence despite calls from Damascus to stem the refugee tide.

The Turkish foreign minister said last month that his government was “ready to do everything for [the] Syrian people,” although he stopped short of endorsing plans for a buffer zone.

Misled

France last year spearheaded efforts in the United Nations to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya after demonstrations against the regime there were also brutally suppressed. China and Russia believe that they were misled on the Security Council resolution that authorized Arab states and NATO to protect Libya’s civilians because the coalition that intervened effectively became the rebels’ air force and helped oust dictator Muammar Gaddafi.