UN Chief ‘Deeply Concerned’ for Syrians Fleeing Eastern Ghouta, Afrin
The U.N. secretary-general said Friday that he was “deeply concerned” about Syrians’ mass exodus from the enclaves of eastern Ghouta and Afrin.
“I profoundly regret that Resolution 2401, concerning the cessation of hostilities throughout Syria, has not been implemented,” Antonio Guterres said of the Security Council’s unanimous March 4 decision that has failed to de-escalate the violence.
“The United Nations and its partners are fully mobilized to bring immediate lifesaving relief to all those in need,” Guterres said in a statement. “I call on all parties to ensure safe and unimpeded humanitarian access in all areas.”
The U.N. Human Rights Office warned Friday that it had received “alarming reports” from the northwestern town of Afrin, where Turkish forces are battling Kurdish fighters. Civilians there reported being prevented from leaving the city by Kurdish forces.
“We have received reports that only those civilians who have contacts within the Kurdish authority or the Kurdish armed forces have been able to leave,” spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said. She noted that even those who could leave faced grave dangers as they exited and then had to pay government-backed armed groups to let them leave Afrin.
The U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said it had finalized plans to assist as many as 50,000 people fleeing the opposition district of eastern Ghouta, which the Syrian government has been fighting to recapture since last month.
“We have been working, planning to respond to evacuations for a while and specifically to provide shelters with emergency assistance,” UNICEF spokeswoman Marixie Mercado told reporters in Geneva.
Airstrikes continued for a second day Friday in the area, killing dozens of people.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights director said thousands of civilians had fled eastern Ghouta’s town of Hammouriyeh on Thursday. Russia said the number of people who left Thursday exceeded 12,000, while Syria’s U.N. ambassador said Friday that 40,000 had left all of eastern Ghouta and were transported to temporary shelters, where they were provided with assistance.
Aid for Douma
International Committee of the Red Cross President Peter Maurer accompanied an aid convoy into eastern Ghouta on Thursday. The 25-truck interagency convoy carried a month’s worth of assistance for the 26,100 residents of Douma.
“The people I have met are exhausted,” Maurer said afterward. “Exhausted from bombs and rockets dropping on civilian neighborhoods; exhausted from not knowing details about missing or detained family members.”
Source: Voice of Americahttps://syrianewsgazette.com/un-chief-deeply-concerned-for-syrians-fleeing-eastern-ghouta-afrin/General