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Syria: “We just want the bombing to stop” – UN Humanitarian Chief briefs Security Council on ongoing attacks and killing of civilians

30 Jul 2019

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Photo: UNICEF/Syria 2019/Khalil Ashawi

UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Mark Lowcock, briefed the Security Council today on the humanitarian situation in Syria. For more than 90 days, bombing and shelling by the Government of Syria, backed by the Russian Federation, has caused carnage in the so-called de-escalation zone of Idleb.

Some 3 million civilians remain caught in the crossfire as civilians and civilian infrastructure continue to come under attack. Since late April some 450 civilians have been killed due to the hostilities, and many more injured, according to the Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Over 440,000 people have been displaced.

Quoting the 26 July statement by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the USG drew attention to the continued campaign of attacks on civilian infrastructure, including medical facilities, schools, markets and bakeries. “These are civilian objects and it seems highly unlikely, given the persistent pattern, that they are being hit by accident.” He continued the quote: “Intentional attacks against civilians are war crimes, and those who have ordered them or carried them out are criminally responsible for their actions.”

The USG drew attention to the experiences of Dr. Mohammed Abrash, a surgeon in Idleb’s Central Hospital, whose hospital has repeatedly come under attack, despite being deconflicted under the UN system. The doctor was charged with treating three young sisters whose house was bombed in an attack that killed their mother and other sister. The next day, the three-year-old who heroically saved her infant sister died.

Ending the statement, he recounted the call from those inside of Idleb to the Security Council: “We are afraid. Please help us. Make it stop.” The USG said: “You in this Security Council have ignored all the previous pleas you have heard. You know what is happening and you have done nothing for 90 days as the carnage continues in front of your eyes. Are you again going to shrug your shoulders , as Michelle Bachelet said? Or are you going to listen to the children of Idleb, and do something about it?”

Read the full Security Council statement here.