As delivered live from Geneva
I am horrified by reports that scores of people including civilians have been killed by an explosion near their convoy during an evacuation from the besieged towns of Foah and Kefraya.
My deepest sympathies go out to the families of those killed and those injured.
The perpetrators of such a monstrous and cowardly attack displayed a shameless disregard for human life. International humanitarian law is very clear: warring parties must protect civilians and distinguish between military and civilian targets.
UNDER-SECRETARY-GENERAL FOR HUMANITARIAN AFFAIRS AND EMERGENCY RELIEF COORDINATOR STEPHEN O’BRIEN
Ladies and gentlemen,
I know it pains us all to observe that the conflict in Syria has entered its seventh wretched tragic year, as the world - much of it represented in this room - has witnessed one of the largest man-made humanitarian and protection crises unfold over the battle-smashed communities and infrastructure of a once thriving lower middle income country.
The conflict in Syria has entered its seventh grim year. Since March 2011, its people have watched huge parts of their beloved country reduced to rubble.
The toll taken on civilians is inexcusable. Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed. Almost five million people – the majority of them women and children – have fled the grotesque violence and deprivation and are now living as refugees. Too many who set out on perilous journeys to escape the war perished on the way.
Mr. President and distinguished Council members,
With the Secretary-General, I welcome today's news of the Security Council's unanimous adoption of the resolution in support of the mediation efforts by the Russian Federation and the Republic of Turkey to facilitate a ceasefire in Syria, and the Council’s renewed call to allow rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access throughout Syria in order to reach all people in need, wherever they are.
As delivered to the Council by OCHA Officer-in-Charge, Director of Operations John Ging.
I provide this update to the Security Council today on behalf of the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mr Stephen O’Brien.
As we meet today, the evacuation of the eastern districts of Aleppo may have concluded but the situation in Syria remains catastrophic. Some 13.5 million people within Syria are in dire need of humanitarian assistance, including nearly 9 million who are food insecure.
I welcome the adoption of resolution 2328 (2016) by the Security Council.
I sincerely hope that, through the passing of this resolution, all parties and those with influence over them will finally and unequivocally ensure that civilians in Aleppo who have suffered so much and for so long are afforded all necessary protection and assistance.
Our task now is to turn these words into meaningful action. It is vital that the resolution is fully implemented without any delay.
I remain extremely alarmed at the severe human tragedy unfolding before our eyes in Aleppo.
In the past 72 hours, air strikes, shelling and street-to-street combat, particularly in the city’s eastern neighbourhoods, have killed or injured scores of civilians. Since yesterday, thousands more fled the fighting in besieged eastern Aleppo with nothing more than the clothes on their back and their children in their arms.
Statement on the resumption of life-saving assistance at the Jordan-Syria border:
I welcome the resumption today of UN inter-agency humanitarian aid operations at the “berm” along the Syrian-Jordan border.
The resumption of humanitarian operations has opened a lifeline to an estimated 85,000 Syrians – three-quarters of them women and children – stranded in a remote, arid desert area, in desperate need of lifesaving assistance and support.
As we meet again this month, the suffering of civilians in Aleppo and across Syria rages on unabated. Horror is now usual – it is a level of violence and destruction that the world appears to consider normal for Syria and normal for the Syrian people. Month after month I have reported to this Council that the level of depravity inflicted upon the Syrian people cannot sink lower, only to return the following month with hideous and, with shocking disbelief, new reports of ever-worsening human suffering.
I am deeply frustrated and saddened that the UN and its humanitarian partners have been forced to abort current plans to evacuate critically injured and sick people from eastern Aleppo city. The UN and partners were ready to evacuate critically injured people over the last few days. They engaged in long and demanding negotiations, and endless rounds of clarifications on conditions and guarantees with all parties. The Syrian Arab Red Crescent, the International Committee of the Red Cross and Syrian medical NGOs joined in the meticulous planning of the evacuations.
I am deeply alarmed by the ferocious pummeling of eastern Aleppo city where an estimated 275,000 people are besieged. Indiscriminate bombing and shelling continues in a shocking and unrelenting manner, killing and maiming civilians, subjecting them to a level of savagery that no human should have to endure.
I am disgusted and horrified by the news that a United Nations/Syrian Arab Red Crescent convoy was hit this evening in Urum al-Kubra (Big Orem), northwest of Aleppo city. Initial reports indicate that many people have been killed or seriously injured, including SARC volunteers, as a result of these sickening attacks. A SARC warehouse was also hit and a SARC health clinic was also reportedly severely damaged.