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News in Brief 27 January 2023

News in Brief 27 January 2023

This is the News in Brief from the United Nations. 

‘Reasonable grounds’ Syrian Air Forces behind 2018 chemical attack on Douma 

There are reasonable grounds to identify the Syrian air force as being responsible for the 7 April 2018 chemical attack in Douma, UN partner the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said on Friday. 

The finding comes in the latest report by its Investigation and Identification Team (ITT), following a two-year investigation. 

The report concluded that at least one helicopter of the Syrian “Tiger Forces” Elite Unit dropped two cylinders of toxic chlorine gas on two apartments in the city, killing 43 people and injuring dozens more. 

The attack occurred during a major military offensive to regain control of Douma, located in a suburb of the capital, Damascus. 

OPCW Director-General Fernando Arias underlined that the use of chemical weapons there, or anywhere else, is unacceptable and a breach of international law.  

He said: “The world now knows the facts – it is up to the international community to take action, at the OPCW and beyond.” 

ITT began work in June 2019 and this was its third report. 

Investigations were conducted between January 2021 and December last year. 

UN refugee chief appeals for continued support to Ukraine 

UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi has called for continued support to Ukraine, concluding a six-day visit to the country on Friday - his third since the Russian invasion nearly a year ago. 

Humanitarian needs remain acute, he warned, and funding must be sustained and expanded. 

Mr. Grandi travelled through the south and east of Ukraine, and said he was “appalled by the level of destruction” caused by shelling and missiles.  

“Civilians, including children and the elderly, have been killed or fled their homes, having their entire lives uprooted by these senseless attacks,” he added. 

Mr. Grandi heads the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, which has substantially scaled up response since the war began last February through its network of local partners.   

This support includes expanding operations further east and south to hard-to-reach and newly accessible areas, delivering cash and in-kind assistance to civilians, and carrying out housing repairs. 

Unimaginable regression in Myanmar two years after military coup 

Two years after the military seized power in Myanmar, the country has “profoundly regressed”, UN human rights chief Volker Türk said on Friday. 

Myanmar has sunk deeper than ever into crisis and has undergone a wholesale regression in human rights, he said, pointing to “consistent disregard” for international law on protecting civilians. 

Since the coup on 1 February 2021, civilians have been subjected to targeted and indiscriminate artillery barrages and air strikes, extrajudicial executions, use of torture, and the burning of whole villages. 

Mr. Türk also used the somber occasion to acknowledge the courage of people who have lost their lives in the struggle for freedom and dignity in Myanmar. 

He said nearly 2,900 people have died at the hands of the military, and others working with the junta, including at least 767 who were initially taken into custody, though the figure is likely much higher. 

Furthermore, 1.2 million people have been displaced inside Myanmar, and over 70,000 have left the country – joining more than one million others, including most of the Rohingya Muslim population, who fled waves of persecution and attacks. 

Dianne Penn, UN News. 


  • ‘Reasonable grounds’ Syrian air force behind 2018 chemical attack 
  • High Commissioner for Refugees calls for sustained support for Ukraine 
  • Myanmar has ‘profoundly regressed’ two years after coup: UN human rights chief 
Audio Credit
Dianne Penn, UN News
Photo Credit
© UNICEF/Omar Sanadiki