UN chief ‘deeply concerned’ by military escalation in northwest Syria

1 February 2020

The UN Secretary-General has called for an immediate cessation of hostilities in northwest Syria.

António Guterres is "deeply concerned" about the ongoing military operation in the region, according to a statement issued on Saturday by his spokesperson.

Hundreds of thousands of people in Idlib province have been fleeing towards Turkey as Government forces attack the last major stronghold held by the opposition, according to media reports.

The Secretary-General underlined that attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure, such as healthcare facilities, are unacceptable.

"Military operations of all parties, including actions against and by designated terrorist groups, must respect the rules and obligations of international humanitarian law, which include the protection of civilians and civilian objects," the statement said.

The UN chief reiterated that there is no military solution to the conflict.

The violence in northwest Syria over the past week has uprooted  6,500 children every day, according to the UN children's agency, UNICEF, with more than 300,000 children displaced overall since early December.

UNICEF estimates that 1.2 million children are in desperate need. Food, water and medicine are in short supply," Executive Director Henrietta  Fore said on Saturday, in calling for an end to the fighting.

"Children and families are taking refuge in public facilities, schools, mosques, unfinished buildings and shops. Many are simply living in the open air including in parks, amidst heavy rains and in the freezing cold."

UN Humanitarian Coordinator Mark Lowcock told the Security Council on Wednesday that the fighting in Idlib appeared “more intense than anything we have seen in the last year”.

He reported that humanitarian organizations have provided food to more than 1.4 million civilians as well as health supplies to treat nearly 200,000.

 

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