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UN warns Syria regime 'onslaught' may spark humanitarian disaster

Some three million people live in the Idlib region [Getty]

Date of publication: 31 July, 2019

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The UN has said the "carnage" in Syria's Idlib province could create the worst humanitarian disaster of this century.

The UN humanitarian chief is urging the Security Council to take action to end the "carnage" in Syria's Idlib province, the last opposition-held stronghold, warning that continued violence could create the worst humanitarian disaster of the 21st century.

An exasperated Mark Lowcock told council members on Tuesday they have ignored previous pleas and "done nothing for 90 days as the carnage continues in front of your eyes."

He asked: "Are you again going to shrug your shoulders ... or are you going to listen to the children of Idlib, and do something about it?"

The Security Council is deeply divided, with Russia backing the Syrian government and Western nations supporting the opposition.

That has prevented the UN's most powerful body from taking any significant action.

Susannah Sirkin, Director of Policy, Physicians for Human Rights, said the council's failure to act had let down civilians in Syria.

She told council members that the Syrian and Russian governments were deliberately targeting health facilities in Idlib, a charge vehemently denied by Vassily Nebenzia, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations.

Some three million people, nearly half of them already displaced from other parts of the country, live in the Idlib region.

Attacks by the Syrian regime and its ally Russia have claimed more than 750 lives there since late April.

The UN says more than 400,000 people have been displaced.

The war in Syria has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since it started in 2011 with a brutal crackdown on anti-government protests.

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