international human rights attorneyAfter the international armed conflict that took place in Bosnia and Herzegovina between April 1992 and December 1995, I naively thought the world would had seen the last of indiscriminate shelling of cities and towns, ethnic cleansing and systematic mass rape.

The recent atrocities in Syria, however, reinforce the notion that history does repeat itself.

In the months since the world first learned of the mass killings of civilians in Houla and Mazraat al-Qubeir, including the brutal assault and murder of women and children at close range, the international community can only watch as the atrocities escalate.

According to various sources, including the United Nations, up to 15,200–21,435 people have been killed, of which about half were civilians. Moreover, tens of thousands of civilians have been displaced since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began some 16 months ago.

Over at the International law Prof blog, there’s an insightful post, The Right to Protect Civilians in Syria, that  details the frustration of the international community in putting a stop to the senseless violence.

As the article points out, two senior United Nations officials Francis Deng and Edward Luck called on the international community to take action to meet its ‘responsibility to protect’ populations at risk of further atrocities in Syria, taking into consideration “the full range of tools available under the United Nations Charter.”

The UN Special Advisers stressed the “importance of unimpeded access for the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) to carry out its mandate, particularly in ascertaining the facts of such killings. They also called on all parties to immediately end all acts of violence and commit to implementing the six-point peace plan put forward by the Joint Special Envoy of the UN and the Arab League for the Syrian Crisis, Kofi Annan. “

For it’s part. the United States is pursuing every avenue to provide humanitarian relief to those affected by the violence in Syria and is engaged in focused diplomatic efforts to secure full and unfettered access for humanitarian organizations to reach those in need.

The United States is providing an additional $12.8 million in humanitarian assistance to support the people of Syria, bringing the total amount of U.S. emergency aid to just over $52 million during the current fiscal year for this crisis.

U.S. assistance continues to reach those affected by the violence through its contributions to international and non-governmental humanitarian partners, including:

• $16.5 million to the World Food Program (WFP);

• $14.9 million to non-governmental organizations (NGOs);

• $8.5 million to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR);

• $8 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC);

• $3 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA);

• $750,000 to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and

• $500,000 to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.