UN voices concerns about humanitarian impact of Turkey’s operation in Syria

NEW YORK, Assistant UN Secretary General for the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific, Mohamed Khaled Khiari has expressed concerns about the humanitarian impact resulting from Turkish military operation in Syria October. “While violence has subsided since 20 October – when the Syrian Democratic Forces withdrew from Ras al-Ayn – the situation remains in flux,” Khiari said in a briefing to the UN Security on Thursday.

“Many civilians in northeast Syria fear further displacement from major cities and towns, disruption of humanitarian access or the return of Government forces, which may lead to arbitrary detention, violent political retribution and conscription,” he said. He underlined that it is crucial that civilians, including captured fighters, be protected under international human rights and international humanitarian law.

It is also crucial that the Council and Member States protect civilians and their infrastructure to ensure full and unimpeded humanitarian access as well as resolution of security concerns through peaceful means.

He called on the international community to provide strengthened support to Syria’s neighboring countries in shouldering the refugee burden.

“As well, refugee returns must be voluntary, safe, dignified and well informed. Highlighting the situation in Al-Hol and Roj camps in northeast Syria, he said 70,000 civilians – more than 95 percent of them women and children – are currently sheltered there,” he pointed out.

Turning to the greater Idlib area, he said air strikes are reported to have increased since 12 October, following a marked reduction after the ceasefire in late August.

“There have also been reports of helicopter attacks and the use of barrel bombs. All parties – especially Turkey and the Russian Federation as guarantors of the de-escalation agreement – must press all actors to the full implementation of the September 2018 Memorandum of Understanding,” he stressed.

Any large-scale military offensive in Idlib would come at an unacceptable cost in terms of loss of human lives and suffering.

“What is most urgently needed now is decisive action for a consolidation of ceasefires in north-east and north-west Syria, protection of civilians throughout the country and full support to ensure that the political track remains on course,” he clarified.

Source: Kuwait News Agency