UNITED NATIONS, Sept 12 (APP):A full-scale battle for Idlib must be avoided at all costs, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has stressed, warning that failure to do so would unleash a humanitarian nightmare unlike any seen in the blood-soaked Syrian conflict so far.
Speaking to the press at UN Headquarters in New York on Tuesday afternoon, Secretary-General Antnio Guterres said that the situation in Idlib is not sustainable and underscored that the presence of terrorist groups sheltering in the enclave cannot be tolerated. But fighting terrorism does not absolve warring parties of their core obligations under international law.
He called on all parties, and in particular Iran, Russia and Turkey – the three guarantors of the de-escalation zones, of which Idlib is the last, to spare no effort in protecting civilians.
The UN chief also cautioned against any use of chemical weapons, warning that, beyond the immediate human toll, such use would lead to the situation spiraling out of control. Preserve basic services and hospitals. Ensure full respect for international humanitarian law, he urged.
Guterres also highlighted the urgent need for greater progress in the Geneva process, and the creation of a constitutional committee as part of the overall political package.
There is no military solution to the conflict. The solution must be political, he said.
Since 4 September, an uptick in violence has killed scores of civilians and displaced more than 30,000 people, according to UN.
Reading a statement from Panos Moumtzis, Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis, an OCHA spokesperson noted that aerial and ground-based bombardment had struck northern rural Hama governorate and southern rural Idlib, and had been accompanied by an increase in retaliatory rocket and mortar attacks.
As UN agencies and their partners prepare to help those fleeing a full-scale military attack, UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, warned that $270 million is urgently needed to help Syria’s most vulnerable people inside and outside the war-torn country.
Of more than 5.6 million Syrian refugees in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt, 2.6 million are children.
UNHCR’s total funding needs for the Syria crisis amount to nearly $2 billion. So far, only 31 per cent of this has been provided.