Fri 17-01-2020 15:04 PM
GENEVA, 17th January, 2020 (WAM) -- The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet today condemned the continued killing and displacement of civilians in north-western Syria despite the announcement of a ceasefire nearly a week ago.
Bachelet called for the immediate cessation of hostilities in and around the ‘de-escalation’ zone of Idlib, and the protection of all civilians and civilian infrastructure.
"Our main concern is for the safety of civilians who remain at serious risk," said Bachelet. "While the pursuit of a ceasefire is, of course, to be encouraged, this agreement – as with others in the past year – has yet again failed to protect civilians.
"It is deeply distressing that civilians are still being killed on a daily basis in missile strikes from both the air and ground. Women, men and children simply carrying out everyday activities at home, the workplace, in markets and at schools are being killed and maimed in senseless violence."
Despite the implementation of the ceasefire on 12th January and the establishment of "safe corridors" by the Government of Syria, civilians continued to be subjected to intensified bombardment as both pro-Government forces and non-State armed groups have continued to fight and press military advantages on the ground, with an apparent disregard for international humanitarian law and the protection of all civilians.
From the beginning of the escalation of hostilities in the de-escalation zone in Idlib and surrounding areas on 29th April 2019 up to 15th January this year, the UN Human Rights Office has verified incidents in which 1,506 civilians, including 293 women and 433 children, have been killed. Of these, 75 civilians including 17 women and 22 children (five percent of the total), were in areas under the control of Government forces.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced by the violence and forced to traverse conflict zones. Some have fled to smaller territories in northern Idlib while others have crossed into areas in northern Aleppo that are under the control of Turkey-backed armed groups and where levels of violence in such areas remain high.
[Image Source: UNICEF]