Syria: Over 1,700 killed in eastern Ghouta since ceasefire resolution
More than 1,700 people in eastern Ghouta in Syria have reportedly been killed by military operations since the UN Security Council adopted a resolution in late February calling for a 30-day nationwide ceasefire.
Mark Lowcock, the UN’s top humanitarian official, reported the sobering statistics in his briefing to the Council on Tuesday.
The Syrian conflict is now in its eighth year and Mr. Lowcock told ambassadors that the past several months have been “among the worst yet” for civilians.
He spoke via videoconference from Geneva.
“Humanitarian organizations also need access to people still trapped inside eastern Ghouta — in Duma in particular, where fighting and besiegement continue. The UN and its partners are ready to proceed to Duma with food for up to 16,500 people, as well as health, nutrition and water, sanitation and hygiene supplies. But facilitation letters have to be signed by the Government of Syria. I reiterate the Secretary-General’s call for all parties to fully respect international humanitarian and human rights law, to ensure immediate humanitarian access, to guarantee the protection of civilians, including in relation to displacements and evacuations.”
Mr. Lowcock spoke about rising humanitarian needs in other parts of Syria, such as the “catastrophic” situation in Idlib, where nearly 400,000 people have been displaced since mid-December.
The UN relief chief also reported on the resumption this month of air strikes in the south which he called “a major unwelcome development”.
Yemen crisis leaves nearly 2 million children out of school: UNICEF
Three years of escalating conflict in Yemen has devastated children’s education, leaving nearly 2 million out of school, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported on Tuesday.
The agency said public school teachers are also in a precarious situation as almost three quarters have not been paid for 18 months, putting the education of an additional 4.5 million children at “grave risk”.
The journey to school has also become dangerous as children “risk being killed en route”, causing many parents to keep their children at home.
Meritxell Relaño, UNICEF Representative in Yemen, briefed journalists in Geneva following the release of the agency’s report “If Not in School”.
“Right now, in Yemen, three years into the conflict, 2 million primary school aged children are not going to school. They stay at home, they work with the family, some of the girls are being married younger than 15, and other children are being sent to the frontline. We have 2,419 verified cases of child recruitment.”
Ms. Relaño said an “entire generation” of children in Yemen faces a “bleak future” because of limited or no access to education.
More than 2,500 schools are out of use, with two thirds damaged by attacks, and others used for military purposes or as shelters for displaced people.
Ukraine urged to take action on displaced, asylum seekers
Authorities in Ukraine are being urged by a senior UN official to secure the rights of people affected by four years of conflict in the country.
George Okoth-Obbo, Assistant High Commissioner for Operations with the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), has called for action on issues such as access to pensions and freedom of movement.
This follows his week-long visit to Ukraine, where fighting between government forces and pro-Russian rebels in the east has displaced approximately 1.5 million people.
Mr. Okoth-Obbo also shared concerns about asylum seekers, including the situation of Syrians, some of whom were prohibited from lodging asylum claims at the airport.
He urged the authorities to facilitate the UN agency’s access to asylum seekers in international transit zones at airports.