Situation in Syria’s Idlib “remains catastrophic” as donors pledge $4.4 billion at Brussels conference
UN chief António Guterres told a major pledging conference for Syria in Brussels on Wednesday, that the scale of humanitarian need there “remains staggering”.
More than 13 million are living in desperate conditions, “exposed to relentless violence and persistent violations of international law”, said the Secretary-General, by video.
UN Relief chief Mark Lowcock announced that international donors at the two-day conference had pledged $4.4 billion to help Syrians living inside and outside the war-ravaged country.
Meanwhile, Ursula Mueller, the Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, briefed the Security Council in New York on Wednesday morning.
She said the situation for civilians in Idleb, where many displaced from formerly-besieged areas - including rebel fighters and their families - have fled, “remains catastrophic”, with almost 400,000 displaced to the region since mid-December.
“While eastern Ghouta is no longer besieged as it has come under the control of the Government of Syria, the UN has not yet been granted access to Douma, where an estimated 70,000 individuals remain in dire need of humanitarian assistance after years of besiegement and months under intensified shelling and airstrikes.”
Chemical Weapons inspectors visit site of alleged attack in Douma
And in Douma itself on Wednesday, inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) carried out a visit to a second site in the city that suffered an alleged chemical attack on 7 April.
Due to security issues, the Fact-Finding Mission was only able to carry out its first visit last weekend, said OPCW.
They collected samples from the site on Wednesday, which are due to be sent for analysis to a OPCW laboratory in the Netherlands.
The World Health Organization said it had received reports that around 500 patients had shown signs of exposure to toxic chemicals following the alleged incident, 43 of whom died.
According to an OPCW press release, the Russian delegation there plans to bring Syrians to the organization’s headquarters on Thursday, to testify about the incident, although the OPCW is advising they should first be interviewed by its fact-finding team.
Concern rising for “escalating” conflict in Myanmar’s Kachin State
Thousands of civilians in Myanmar’s Kachin State are being displaced and facing growing humanitarian needs due to an escalation in fighting between government soldiers and separatist fighters, said the UN on Wednesday.
A UN assessment team said they had met up with displaced civilians in the area of Namti on Monday, who had told them that they were in urgent need of food, shelter, healthcare, water and sanitation.
Other civilians are finding themselves trapped in conflict-affected areas, unable to flee, and “there are grave protection concerns for these communities as a result” said UN Spokersperson, Stéphane Dujarric.
“The local authorities and humanitarian partners are now moving to respond but access for the UN and international humanitarian partners to civilian populations in need continues to be extremely limited in Kachin, notably in non-Government controlled areas. The UN calls on all parties to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law.”
Matt Wells, UN News.