World, Middle East

UN aide gravely alarmed at Idlib military escalation

Najat Rochdi warns of catastrophic humanitarian consequences amid continued airstrikes, shelling in northwest Syria

Peter Kenny   | 27.02.2020
UN aide gravely alarmed at Idlib military escalation


A UN official expressed the “gravest" alarm Thursday that a military offensive in northwest Syria is having catastrophic humanitarian consequences due to the “unprecedented number of persons displaced.” 

“Airstrikes and shelling continue affecting dozens of communities and villages in Idlib and Hama. Civilians, including children, continue to be killed,” Najat Rochdi, Senior Humanitarian Adviser to the Special Envoy for Syria, said in a statement after a task force meeting of diplomats from concerned missions in Geneva.

Rochdi said at least 11 civilians were killed, seven children, and more than 40 people were injured when strikes hit a school Feb. 25 in Maaret Masreen in northern rural Idlib, citing the UN rights office.

In this month, at least 134 civilians, including 44 children, were killed and 11 medical facilities and 15 educational facilities were either directly hit or affected by nearby strikes in Idlib and Aleppo governorates.

“The surge in hostilities has forced nearly one million people to flee their homes since 1 December, and frontlines are advancing closer to densely populated areas,” said Rochdi.

She said there were multiple reports of children freezing to death.

“The needs of civilians in the northwest are exceeding the humanitarian response capacity” said Rochdi.

She called on all relevant parties to ensure all attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure such as medical facilities, schools, markets and sites where displaced people shelter, stop immediately.

Rochdi also underscored the shared responsibility of the international community to victims of the conflict.

She recalled a statement from the UN Secretary-General that “this man-made humanitarian disaster must stop.”

Rochdi urged the task force to ensure the protection of civilians, and humanitarian access, among other protection issues.

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