Statement by Panos Moumtzis, the Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis on the recent escalation of violence in Syria
I am appalled by reports of high numbers of civilian casualties due to heavy air attacks in Syria. Hospitals, ambulances, schools and displaced people escaping violence have been targeted by direct air strikes resulting in deaths and injuries of innocent civilians. September was the deadliest month of 2017 for civilians with daily reports of attacks on residential areas resulting in hundreds of conflict-related deaths and injuries.
This week, airstrikes on Ar-Raqqa city killed dozens of people and injured many others. Some 8,000 people remain trapped in the city. Between 19-30 September, airstrikes on residential areas in Idlib killed at least 149 people, the majority of whom were women and children. Attacks on medical facilities are depriving people in need of their right to life-saving medical care. Schools and hospital in Idlib have been forced to close due to fear of being targeted. Three explosions in Damascus city caused the death of 20 people and injured 15 more. Civilian casualties were also reported in Rural Damascus, Hama, Aleppo and Deir-ez-Zor.
I would like to praise the phenomenal work carried out by humanitarian workers and in particular national staff. Rescue workers on a daily basis risk their lives to help others. The UN calls on all parties to the conflict to immediately take all measures to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure throughout Syria. Targeting of civilians and facilities including hospitals and other medical facilities is simply unacceptable and constitute a grave violation of human rights and international humanitarian law and may amount to war crimes. All parties to the conflict must respect their international obligations and act in a way that ensures the protection of civilians and humanitarian workers.