This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Civilians must not be ‘used as pawns’ in Syria
Some one million Syrians, including hundreds of thousands of displaced people, are in an extremely vulnerable situation, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said on Tuesday.
With a recent uptick in violence against Idlib and its surrounding areas, High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet painted a picture of large numbers of civilians, including women and children, “living an intolerable existence” and called on all parties involved, to protect civilians, “in accordance with international law.”
“They are trapped between escalating hostilities and bombardment on one hand”, she said, and on the other, are forced to live under extremist rule and fighters who “regularly carry out targeted killings, abductions and arbitrary detention.”
“Civilians continue to be used as pawns by the various parties,” said the High Commissioner. “I call on them to provide safe passage to those who wish to flee, while those wish to remain must also be protected as much as possible.”
Momentum in Yemen
Turning to Yemen, “significant progress” is being made in implementing the Stockholm peace deal reached last December between Government and Houthi leaders, UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths told the Security Council.
Mr. Griffiths said that under the “strong leadership” of the head of the UN operation monitoring a cease-fire in Yemen’s key port of Hudaydah, the parties have agreed that the first step of the Hudaydah Redeployment Plan would be from the ports of Saleef and Ras Isa.
Step two will be from Hudaydah port, which remains the humanitarian lifeline for Yemenis on the edge of famine.
“This will facilitate humanitarian access to the Red Sea Mills,” which he explained “holds enough food to feed 3.7 million people for a month.”
“There have, as I’ve reported before, been signs of increased civilian activity in Hudaydah and the people of the city are already, at this very early stage seeing some tangible benefits from the significant and consistent decrease in hostilities in that area as a result of the Stockholm agreement.”
Mr. Griffiths saw the positive movements as “a sign” that the parties are committed to keeping up the momentum,” saying they reinforce trust and show political will.
He indicated that it was time now to find a political solution “to bring this conflict to a close.”
Refugees need resettling, now
Meanwhile, the UN refugee agency UNHCR said Tuesday that despite record levels of worldwide forced displacement, less than five per cent of refugee resettlement needs were met in 2018.
Resettlement is a life-saving tool that involves relocating refugees from an asylum country to one where they can permanently live. However, this happens only for a fraction of the world’s refugees.
UNHCR spokesperson Shabia Mantoo told reporters in Geneva that “of the estimated 1.2 million refugees in need of resettlement in 2018,” less than 56,000 were “actually resettled.”
Moreover, in 2019, an estimated 1.4 million refugees who are currently residing in 65 refugee-hosting countries worldwide will need resettlement.
Liz Scaffidi, UN News.