Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock Press Statement on Northwest Syria, 18 July 2019


Today marks the 80th day since fighting escalated on 29 April. For 80 days people around the world have watched in horror as war planes and artillery shelling kill and injure civilians and destroy civilian infrastructure. In the last 80 days we have seen more than 350 civilians killed, many more injured, and 330,000 people displaced.

More than 70 civilians have been killed so far this month – including women and children, some of them displaced and sheltering under trees, as well as humanitarian workers.

Since 1 July, at least six health facilities, five schools, three water stations, two bakeries, and one ambulance have been damaged or destroyed. Entire villages have been destroyed and emptied.

On 16 July we received reports of an attack on the main market street of Ma’ar Shureen village leaving 12 people dead, including a child, and 20 more injured.

The carnage must stop.

I was particularly concerned by the attack on 10 July on Ma’arat National Hospital. In briefing the Security Council on 27 June I asked that this hospital, which has been deconflicted, be spared from harm. It was built in 2003 by the Syrian Ministry of Health. Its location is well known.

Referrals from throughout the region stream into the hospital, and it manages as many as 20,000 cases a month. There were reportedly 250 people in the hospital when the attack took place, including many requiring emergency care. The hospital has now resumed functioning. I call again for it to be protected.

Other medical facilities have suffered a worse fate. In another attack on 10 July, a hospital in Jisr-Ash-Shugur was hit, leaving five dead –three of them children – and another 14 injured, including five health workers. The building sustained serious structural damage.

Medical facilities and medical workers enjoy special protections under International Humanitarian Law. Civilians and civilian infrastructure require the protections afforded to them under International Humanitarian Law.

I condemn the unjustified and unwarranted brutality that civilians are being forced to endure in Idleb.

We have significantly scaled up humanitarian cross-border operations to ease the suffering and meet the needs of the population, particularly for the over 330,000 people who have fled to the northern part of Idleb during the current fighting. However, delivering humanitarian assistance in areas under active military operations is difficult, and sometimes impossible.

I call on the parties to the conflict:

  • to end the killing of civilians and destruction of civilian infrastructure;
  • to respect, and investigate breaches of, international humanitarian law;
  • to ensure access to areas currently inaccessible to humanitarian assistance;

I briefed the Security Council again today on recent developments in northwest Syria. I also asked them when they are going to take action.

New York, 18 July 2019


UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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