UN official underscores impact of fighting on civilians in Syria

Source: Xinhua| 2018-01-31 03:41:56|Editor: yan
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UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) -- A senior UN official on Tuesday underscored the impact of fighting on civilians in Syria, saying 13.1 million people are in need of protection and humanitarian assistance.

Years of conflict has caused immeasurable human suffering and countless civilians dead, injured or missing, said Ursula Mueller, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs.

So far, 6.1 million people have been displaced within the country. An additional 5.5 million have fled the conflict into neighboring countries, she told the Security Council.

Mueller expressed particular concern over the safety and protection of civilians caught up in the violence in northwest Syria. Airstrikes and fighting in southern Idlib and northern Hama have resulted in over 270,000 displacements since Dec. 15, driving people from their homes to other areas, she said.

Camps for the displaced are overstretched, forcing most of those displaced to seek shelter in some 160 makeshift settlements. Attacks on medical facilities and vital infrastructure continue, with reports of at least 16 attacks on health care facilities during the month of December alone, she said.

Further north in Afrin near the border with Turkey, the United Nations is carefully monitoring the situation of more than 300,000 people living in the district that is witnessing fighting, said Mueller.

About 15,000 people have been displaced within the district and 1,000 more have been displaced in other parts of the Aleppo governorate, she said.

In the rebel-held enclave of eastern Ghouta near Damascus, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights documented at least 81 civilian deaths, including 25 women and 30 children, Mueller added.

The UN official asked for enough funds for the UN humanitarian response plan for Syria for 2018, which requests 3.5 billion U.S. dollars; an agreement on medical evacuations for those trapped in eastern Ghouta and other besieged areas; and improved humanitarian access.

She said the United Nations and its partners have had no access at all to besieged locations and hard-to-reach areas during the month of January. In the previous month, only two convoys accessed hard-to-reach areas while no cross-line convoys were able to reach besieged locations.