Protection of civilians in Syria must be ensured: UN chief

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UNITED NATIONS, June 21 (APP): United Nations Secretary-General
Antonio Guterres has called on all those conducting military operations
in Syria to ensure the safety and protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure.
“Civilians continue to be killed, injured and displaced at a
terrifying rate [and] places of refuge, such as hospitals and schools continue to be targeted,” the Secretary-General said in a statement Wednesday.
“I make an urgent appeal to all those conducting
military operations in Syria to do everything in their power
to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure,” he added.
In the statement, the UN chief voiced particular concern
for the civilians in Raqqa as well as those stuck in other
besieged and hard-to-reach areas, some of whom have been deprived
of food and basic medical assistance for years on end.
According to estimates, more than 430,000 civilians are in
need across the larger Raqqa governorate, in areas either cut
off from relief or where transporting aid is extremely difficult.
In all, the crisis – now it in its seventh year – has left
more than 13.5 million people in need of humanitarian
assistance, displaced 6.3 million internally, and forced more
than 5.1 million to flee across Syrian borders.
Further in the statement, Guterres hailed the efforts of
UN and humanitarian workers, who he said are “all they can to
stem the suffering in Raqqa and across Syria, often at
great personal risk.”
“It is critical for all parties [to the conflict]
to facilitate improved humanitarian access to allow aid to reach
those in urgent need of life-saving assistance without delay,”
he said.