United Nations, March 13 (PTI): UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has expressed strong concern over continued violence and hostilities in Syria, saying the Arab country is “bleeding inside and out”.
He called for full implementation of a UN resolution for a ceasefire in the strife-torn nation.
“I am deeply saddened by the immense loss and cascading suffering of the Syrian people. And I am deeply disappointed by all those who have, year after year, by action or inaction, by design or indifference, allowed this to happen Syria is bleeding inside and out,” the UN chief said.
He made the remarks yesterday while briefing the 15-member UN Security Council on the implementation of Security Council resolution 2401 unanimously adopted last month.
Along with a 30-day ceasefire, the resolution calls for delivering aid, evacuating the sick and wounded, lifting sieges, accelerating humanitarian mine action, and protecting civilians and infrastructure.
According to UN data, the conflict has produced more than 5.6 million Syrian refugees and 6.1 million internally displaced people, with more than 13 million people inside the country requiring humanitarian assistance, including nearly six million children.
“Let me highlight just one stark fact on this grimmest of anniversaries: In 2017, more children were killed in Syria than during any other year since the war began,” he said.
However, violence continues in Eastern Ghouta and beyond, including in Afrin, parts of Idlib and into Damascus and its suburbs, Guterres said, warning that in Eastern Ghouta, airstrikes, shelling and ground offensives have even intensified and claimed many hundreds of civilian lives, some even saying more than 1,000 were killed.
Guterres said none of the Council’s directives have been implemented: the provision of humanitarian aid and services has not been safe, unimpeded or sustained; no sieges have been lifted and not one critically sick or wounded person has yet been evacuated.
“I appeal to all parties for the full implementation of resolution 2401 throughout the whole of Syrian territory. The United Nations is ready to assist in any efforts to make that happen,” the UN Chief said, calling on all states “with influence” to exercise it in support of the efforts of the United Nations and the implementation of the resolution.
“We are obviously far from safe, unimpeded and sustained delivery of humanitarian aid’ as demanded in resolution 2401 as well as other relevant Security Council resolutions. And so the humanitarian and human rights situation is becoming more desperate by the day,” he said.
Guterres added that all parties involved should be reminded that even efforts to combat terrorist groups identified by the Council do not supersede these humanitarian obligations.
He noted, however, that in some areas, like Deir ez-Zour and Douma, the conflict is diminishing in intensity.
A ceasefire between the Government and Jaish al Islam forces in Douma is largely holding, he said, noting that their meeting took place yesterday and today, and there has been progress on civilian evacuations and humanitarian aid.
Guterres’ oral report detailed latest efforts of his Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, to bring about a political solution to the conflict and UN activities to address the humanitarian crisis.
“On Thursday, this conflict will enter its eighth year. I refuse to lose my hope to see Syria rising from the ashes,” he said.