World, Middle East

UN chief: People in E. Ghouta 'living in hell on earth'

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appeals for suspension of war activities in Damascus suburbs

21.02.2018
UN chief: People in E. Ghouta 'living in hell on earth'

By Betul Yuruk

NEW YORK

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday expressed "deep sadness" over people living in the Damascus suburbs of Eastern Ghouta.

Some 400,000 people are “living in hell on earth,” Guterres said during his address to UN Security Council ministerial briefing on the purposes and principles of the UN Charter in the maintenance of international peace and security.

He appealed for an immediate suspension of "all war activities".

"At this time, it is especially urgent for the Security Council to uphold its responsibility to bring about a political settlement on Syria in accordance with resolution 2254 under UN auspices," he said.

Home to some 400,000 civilian residents, Eastern Ghouta has remained under a crippling regime siege for the last five years.

Syria has been locked in a devastating civil war since March 2011 when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.

Also addressing the briefing, ex-UN chief Ban Ki-moon said the Security Council must focus on the ongoing civil war in Syria, tension in the Golan heights and refugee crisis.

"These issues could resurface, seriously threaten regional stability, and instigate further conflicts among states in the region," Ban said.

Ban said the Middle East must be prepared for the post-Daesh era.

"Such instability could lead to exacerbating tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia, and bring Israel and Iran closer to direct conflict," he added.

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