Security Council Open Debate on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict Statement by Ms. Valerie Amos, Emergency Relief Coordinator and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, 25 June 2012
The Secretary-General’s report provides a compelling reminder of the situation that confronts civilians affected by conflict and violence; and of the pressing need to strengthen efforts to protect them.
Since the submission of the report, a number of the situations to which it refers have deteriorated.
In Syria, in recent weeks we have seen an alarming intensification in the violence. The ongoing use of artillery and tanks by Syrian security forces in populated areas is of the utmost concern, as are reports of summary executions of civilians, as well as torture and other forms of ill-treatment by Syrian security forces and militia, including against children. Schools have been raided, used as military bases and detention centres. Hospitals and health facilities have been targeted. Anti-Government groups are also reportedly responsible for violations, including torture, summary executions and abductions.
Residents in the most affected areas are often unable to access water, food or medical care. It is imperative that civilians who wish to leave areas of fighting be allowed to do so safely. All relevant parties need to allow safe, timely and unimpeded access by humanitarian organizations to all areas affected by violence to enable the provision of assistance to people in need.
The plight of civilians in other situations also warrants our continued attention.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, intensified military operations in North Kivu between the Congolese armed forces and the M23 have displaced over 220,000 people since early April.
Meanwhile, the redeployment of Congolese forces to fight the M23 has left a security vacuum elsewhere which is being exploited by the Forces democratiques de liberation du Rwanda and other armed groups, in an effort to take control of mines and towns. The result is that tens of thousands of civilians are displaced.
Continued fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces (or SAF) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (or SPLM-N), including aerial bombardment of civilian areas by the SAF, has resulted in a sharp increase in the number of refugees fleeing to South Sudan. Those remaining in Blue Nile and South Kordofan urgently need assistance yet the Sudanese
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