UN rights chief appalled at civilian toll in war-torn Syria’s northeast
The humanitarian crisis in north-west Syria has left civilians with nowhere safe – not even displacement camps – UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said on Tuesday.
In a statement, she warned that more than 900,000 civilians in Syria’s north-west have been forced into ever smaller areas in search of safety as Government forces continue their campaign against armed opposition groups.
Here’s her spokesperson, Rupert Colville:
“Civilians fleeing the fighting are being squeezed into areas without safe shelter that are shrinking in size by the hour. And still they are bombed. And they simply no longer have anywhere to go…We have also recorded several incidents in which displacement camps were either directly hit or affected by nearby strikes. As the High Commissioner puts it, ‘No shelter is now safe,’ and as the Government offensive continues and people are forced into smaller and smaller pockets, she fears even more people will be killed.”
Since 1 January, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has confirmed 299 civilian deaths in Idlib.
Around 93 per cent of that number were caused by the Syrian Government and its allies and 246 came after airstrikes, OHCHR said.
Cameroon killings: Bachelet urges independent investigation
Grim details have emerged of the recent killing of over 20 villagers in north-west Cameroon linked to the ongoing conflict between Government forces and armed separatists in the country’s mainly English-speaking northwest and south-west.
In last Friday’s attack on the village of Ngarbuh in Donga Mantung division, 23 civilians were killed including women, and 15 children.
Witnesses told the UN human rights office that members of the security and defence forces had opened fire on people and burned houses.
According to the UN humanitarian coordination agency, OCHA, at least 600 people were displaced.
The UN and aid partners continue to address humanitarian needs, but access is constrained mainly by insecurity and a lack of funding, OCHA said.
A total of 2.3 million people urgently need food, shelter and non-food items, as well as protection because of the crisis in the north-west and south-west.
That represents an increase of one million compared to a year ago.
On Tuesday, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet noted that the Cameroon Government intended to investigate the killings and that the findings would be made public.
She urged the authorities to ensure that the probe was independent, impartial and thorough, and that those responsible were held fully to account.
Libya talks resume at UN Geneva as negotiator seeks to overcome sticking points
And finally, talks to end fighting in Libya have resumed in Geneva, where UN negotiator Ghassan Salamé said that ongoing clashes must end for there to be a chance of progress.
Speaking in Geneva, Mr. Salamé said that the port of Tripoli had been attacked earlier on Tuesday.
“As long as these violations are frequent, it’s very, very hard to think of quiet negotiations between the two parties on any one of the three tracks we are trying to push forward.”
The UN envoy added that an arms embargo on Libya has continued to be violated in the North African nation.
Since last April, the UN-recognized Government of National Accord, based in the capital, has been engaged in conflict with the self-styled Libyan National Army.
During a break in the talks, Mr. Salamé appealed for an open-minded approach from both parties.
He insisted that concessions needed to be made concerning the return of former fighters to their communities.
Specifically, this involved deciding on what kind of military monitoring was needed, who was going to do it and whether they would be armed or unarmed.
Further questions include deciding what to do with the large amount of heavy weaponry in Libya, what should happen to non-regular fighters, and who should be in charge of the police force.
Detailed answers to these questions were how the truce could be translated into a lasting ceasefire, Mr. Salamé said.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.