Syria

Statement by David Miliband, President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, on unfolding humanitarian catastrophe in Idlib

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Munich, February 14, 2020 — At the Munich Security Conference today, and amidst escalating humanitarian catastrophe in Syria’s Idlib, International Rescue Committee President and CEO David Miliband said:

“The Munich Security Conference meets at a time of unparalleled turbulence: when not only global security but also global values are more at stake than ever before. We are in the thick of the Age of Impunity - an era characterized by the total disregard for the rule of law and an equally grave deficit of international diplomacy, which allows the suffering of civilians to continue unabated.

“Nowhere is this more evident today than in Syria, where the assault on Idlib may be reaching its grim climax. 800,000 have fled since December, 100,000 in the past seven days alone, another 500,000 who still risk joining them - the largest civilian displacement since the war started nine long years ago. Among those forced to flee are nearly 30 local IRC staff who attempt to persevere in their life-saving work despite relentless violence. In the past three weeks alone, the IRC and the organizations it works with have had to suspend operations in a number of health facilities and relocate an entire fleet of ambulances. Faced with ongoing and deliberate targeting of aid workers, medical staff and their facilities, there is now the very real concern that there will be no doctors and nurses left to help spare life and limb on the ground.

“The catastrophe in Idlib is a symptom of the utter failure of diplomacy and abandonment by the international community of Syrian civilians. The IRC is making an urgent call for an immediate ceasefire to stop the killing. The IRC is also calling for accountability - for violations of international law to have meaningful consequences. One such opportunity is through the UN Board of Inquiry into attacks on civilian infrastructure in the Northwest, whose findings must be made public and those responsible held to account. UN Security Council members should also make absolutely clear the damaging consequences of the elimination of vital aid border crossings - so that there is no doubt in the minds of SC members about the depth and gravity of human suffering on the ground.”

ABOUT THE IRC The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and over 20 U.S. cities helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future, and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.