Noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General.
– Syria Humanitarian
– Burkina Faso
The Secretary-General is gravely concerned over the military developments in northeast Syria, which have already reportedly resulted in many civilian casualties and the displacement of at least 160,000 civilians. He continues to urge for maximum restraint and stresses that any military operation must fully respect international law, including the UN Charter and international humanitarian law.
The Secretary-General calls for the immediate de-escalation and urges all parties to resolve their concerns through peaceful means.
The Secretary-General emphasizes that civilians not taking part in hostilities must be protected at all times. Likewise, civilian infrastructure must be protected in accordance with international humanitarian law. He recognizes in particular the vulnerabilities of internally displaced persons. He further stresses that sustained, unimpeded and safe humanitarian access to civilians in need must be guaranteed, including through the cross-border modality, in order to allow the United Nations and its humanitarian partners to continue to carry out its critical work in northern Syria.
He also notes with serious concern that the current military operations could lead to the unintended release of individuals associated with Daesh, with all the consequences this could entail.
The Secretary-General recalls Security Council resolution 2254 (2015), which stresses that any solution to the Syrian crisis must reaffirm the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Syria.
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that since 9 October, those on the move have been displaced by the violence from areas around Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ain. Most of the displaced are staying with relatives or host communities, but increasing numbers are arriving at collective shelters in the area.
The latest fighting compounds an already dire humanitarian situation in north-east Syria. Of the three million women, children and men in the north-east, 1.8 million were already in need of humanitarian aid, including over 910,000 in acute need. Close to 710,000 of those living in the area were already internally displaced.
There are also heightened concerns for thousands of vulnerable displaced persons, including women and children at various camps for internally displaced people, including Al Hol – which currently host over 68,000 people, 94 per cent of whom are women and children.
The UN is continuing with its contingency planning and humanitarian workers are committed to stay, but the Organization is concerned about their safety.
Meanwhile, the World Food Programme (WFP) has so far provided immediate food assistance to more than 70,000 people fleeing towns in the area. WFP is deeply concerned about the safety of civilians caught in the violence and urges that vital supply routes must be kept open and safe for humanitarian deliveries. The food agency is providing families in shelters with ready-to-eat food that does not require cooking while those staying with host families receive a regular food package.
On the political front, Geir Pedersen, the Special Envoy for Syria, has met with the 28 EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg today. He expressed deep alarm at the developments in northeastern Syria. He urged the concerned parties to refrain from actions that further imperil civilians, undermine sovereignty, destabilize the fragile situation and endanger efforts on political track.
Over the weekend, Mr. Pedersen consulted with the Syrian National Committee in Riyadh. He will head to Damascus very soon and stressed that all must work constructively to achieve the goals of the Constitutional Committee.
Full Highlights: https://www.un.org/sg/en/content/noon-briefing-highlight?date%5Bvalue%5D%5Bdate%5D=14%20October%202019