Turning to Syria, the UN remains deeply concerned about the safety of over 4 million civilians in north-west Syria, over half of whom are internally displaced, following reports of ongoing air strikes and shelling over the weekend.
The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights reports that over 1,500 civilians in the north-west of Syria have been killed since April, when the current military escalations began, including over 430 children and 290 women.
Since 1 December, an estimated 389,000 people have been displaced. That’s an increase of more than 30,000 since last week. The vast majority, about 80 per cent of those people who are being displaced, are women and children.
The latest displacement compounds an already dire humanitarian situation on the ground in Idlib, where more than 400,000 people were displaced between the end of April and the end of August, many of them multiple times.
Turning to Libya, the UN Human Rights Office, in a new report today on the air strikes last July on the Tajoura detention centre in Libya, renewed its call on all parties to the conflict in that country to conduct independent, impartial and thorough investigations to ensure accountability for the violations of international law.
The report concurs with previous UN findings that the air strikes were likely conducted by aircraft belonging to a foreign State, noting that, “it remains unclear whether these air assets were under the command of the Libyan National Army (LNA) or were operated under the command of that foreign State in support of the LNA”. The report quote “calls on all parties, as well as any States supporting either party, to conduct investigations in the air strikes with a view to ensuring the swift prosecution of those responsible.”
Over the weekend, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) deeply regretted the continued blatant violations of the arms embargo in Libya, even after the commitments made in this regard by concerned countries during the Berlin Conference.
The UN Mission said that over the last 10 days, numerous cargo and other flights have been observed landing in Libyan airports in the western and eastern parts of the country, providing the parties with advanced weapons, armoured vehicles, advisers and fighters. The UN mission condemns these ongoing violations, with a risk of plunging the country into a renewed and intensified round of fighting.
Meanwhile, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Libya, Ghassan Salamé, is currently in Tunisia, holding meetings in preparations of the security track and the political tracks of the peace process.
Democratic Republic of Congo
And also, we have an update on the measles outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Although case incidence showed a decreasing trend in December, the cumulative number of cases and deaths has continued to increase, with over 6,000 deaths reported last year.
Cases of measles continue to be reported in all 26 provinces, including the provinces of Ituri, North Kivu and South Kivu, which are also affected by the Ebola outbreak. The majority of measles cases – 75 per cent of those cases– are impacting children under the age of 5.
The emergence of new cases is likely a result of persisting gaps in the vaccination coverage, which needs to be scaled up accordingly. Forty million dollars are needed urgently, in order to extend the vaccination to children over 5 and to reinforce outbreak response activities beyond vaccination.
Another reminder to vaccinate when you can.