Vital food crops destroyed in Syria amid ongoing escalation in Idlib, Hama
Thousands of acres of crops have been destroyed in Syria’s Idlib and north Hama amid ongoing deadly violence, the World Food Programme (WFP) said on Tuesday, in a call to the warring parties to stop using food security to hold people “hostage”.
In Geneva, WFP spokesperson Hervé Verhoosel expressed alarm at the humanitarian crisis in the north-western opposition-held enclave, where a Government-led military operation escalated in late April.
“The latest outbreak in violence in Idlib and north Hama has left dozens of casualties, burned several thousands of acres of crops and farmland, and forced at least 300,000 people to flee their homes…It is not acceptable to take one more time the civilian population, hostage.”
Mr. Verhoosel’s comments follow reports of aerial attacks on Monday that killed six civilians, the latest victims in more than eight years of war that have claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, destroyed hospitals and forced millions to flee.
To respond to the three million people in North Hama, Idlib and rural western Aleppo who are trapped by conflict, WFP announced that it intends to scale up aid to reach 823,000 people this month.
This is in addition to the 200,000 newly displaced people that the agency has already reached with monthly emergency rations.
Libya’s detention centres ‘filling up faster than UN can evacuate most vulnerable’
Thousands of men, women and children face dire conditions at detention centres for migrants in Libya, the UN refugee agency has said, warning that vulnerable people are being sent to them faster than it can secure their release.
According to UNHCR, the country’s coastguard rescued or intercepted some 1,200 in May alone from the Mediterranean, before bringing them back to shore; that’s more than for the whole of 2019.
The development follows ongoing conflict in and around the outskirts of Tripoli, instigated by the self-styled Libyan National Army forces of General Khalifa Haftar, who leads a parallel administration in the eastern city of Benghazi.
Here’s UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch, describing the situation at Zintan detention centre, south of Libya’s capital Tripoli:
“Conditions in Zintan are dire… Toilets are overflowing and are in urgent need of repair. As a result, solid waste and garbage has piled up inside the cells for days and presents a serious health threat. Tensions amongst the detainees are rising as they become increasingly agitated and desperate. In total, 654 refugees and migrants remain held in the Zintan detention centre.”
On Tuesday, UNHCR reported that it had moved 96 people out of Zintan; they were from Somalia, Eritrea and Ethiopia, and included two newborns.
WHO laments Ebola toll citing insecurity
And finally to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where the World Health Organization has expressed frustration at insecurity challenges as the number of cases of Ebola virus disease has now passed 2,000.
Since the beginning of the outbreak last August, more than 1,340 have died.
The UN response has been hampered by attacks by armed groups, protests and demonstrations, including one in April that killed a WHO medic, Valery Mouzoko Kiboung, in Butembo.
Here’s WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic:
“This is another sad, frustrating milestone; the security is holding back the response…Every time there is an incident, whether some of them are major, some of them minor, some of them target Ebola responders, some of them don’t, but every time there is a security incident, we are not able to provide services and go into a community. We are not able to vaccinate, we are not able to treat those who are ill, we are not able to follow up on those who may have been exposed to the virus.”
The development follows last week’s appointment of a UN Ebola response chief David Gressly, who is also deputy head of UN Stabilization Mission in the DRC, MONUSCO.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.