United Nations, June 7: New first hand reporting by UN staff in Syria has revealed "increasingly horrific brutality" by all parties in the de-escalation area of the country’s northwest, causing "significant civilian casualties" and hundreds of thousands displaced, a senior humanitarian official said.
"Three million people in Idlib need protection", Najat Rochdi, Senior Humanitarian Adviser to the UN Special Envoy for Syria, said in a statement on Thursday, adding that there was 'grave danger' of a “humanitarian catastrophe” if the violence fails to end.
Attacks and fighting are also impacting civilians in Government-controlled areas. "Let me be clear", said Rochdi, 'the protection of civilians is paramount'. She maintained that combating terrorism – a justification often used by pro-Syrian Government forces for the assault on the last rebel-held area of Syria - 'does not absolve any party from its legal obligations' to prevent attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure.
"All warring parties must uphold their obligations under international law, and immediately stop attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure, including medical facilities, schools, markets and places of worship, which may amount to war crimes", she spelled out.
The Humanitarian Adviser underscored the principle of collective responsibility towards the victims of the conflict, "many of whom are too young to try to make sense of this senseless war".
Due to a desperately short supply of basic goods and services, the situation for 29,000 people in the Rukban settlement near the Jordanian border, remains 'critical', she said, adding that it had been more than four months since they last received assistance.
She appealed again on Thursday to the international Task Force members’ humanity to deliver on their commitment and spare civilians who have already suffered for so many years, calling humanitarian assistance in Syria 'a lifeline'.