Syria crisis

UN Syria envoy alarmed by hostilities, civilian shortages

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The UN special envoy for Syria on Thursday voiced his growing concern at increased hostilities in the south of the country and warned of the alarming shortages faced by civilians.

Norwegian diplomat Geir Pedersen reiterated his call for an immediate end to the violence and urged all parties to uphold the principle of protecting civilians.

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“Increased hostilities, which have included heavy shelling and intensified ground clashes, have resulted in civilian casualties, as well as damage to civilian infrastructures,” his office said in a statement.

“Thousands of civilians have been forced to flee Daraa al-Balad. Civilians are suffering with acute shortages of fuel, cooking gas, water, and bread. Medical assistance is in short supply to treat the injured.

“The situation is alarming.”

At Thursday’s virtual meeting of the International Syria Support Group’s Humanitarian Task Force, Pedersen stressed that immediate, safe and unimpeded humanitarian access must be granted to all affected areas and communities, and that the near siege-like situation must end.

“There is the potential for increased confrontations and further deterioration unless there is an immediate calm and a political way forward,” Pedersen’s office said.

“The special envoy also continues to hear from people in Daraa, including civil society representatives on the ground, who have expressed grave fears for their safety.”

He also noted an escalation of violence in northwest Syria, and multiple water security challenges in the northeast.

Syria’s war has killed around half a million people since 2011 with a brutal crackdown on anti-government protests.

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