Date :Thursday, September 13th, 2018 | Time : 08:08 |ID: 70242 | Print

Iran shares the UN’s concern and seeks to avert disaster in Idlib

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SHAFAQNA – An Iranian senior official said Iran seeks to avert disaster in Syria’s Idlib.

“Iran shares the United Nations’ concern about a potential humanitarian catastrophe in Syria’s Idlib province and will seek to avert it”, Hossein Jaberi Ansari, special assistant to Iran’s foreign minister, told reporters on Tuesday.

Iran and Russia are President Bashar al-Assad’s main backers in Syria’s seven-year-old civil war. Last week, Russian and Syrian warplanes resumed a bombing campaign in Idlib, the last rebel enclave in Syria, after weeks of quiet, in an apparent prelude to a full-scale offensive.
“We are also worried. We are going to work toward that not happening,” Ansari said as he arrived in Geneva for U.N. talks about setting up a Syrian constitutional committee. The talks are hosted by U.N. envoy Staffan de Mistura and also include senior Russian and Turkish officials, Reuters reported.

Idlib is the insurgents’ only remaining major stronghold and a government offensive could be the war’s last decisive battle.

The lives of Syrian children living in Idlib must be protected at all costs

Idlib has a population of roughly 3 million people, half of whom are internally displaced people who fled from other war-torn areas and around 1 million of which are children and it is expected an offensive there could become the deadliest yet in the seven-year war.

According to Middle East Monitor, More than a million Syrian children are at risk in the event of a government military assault on the rebel-held province of Idlib, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said.

The UN on Tuesday also warned a large-scale Syrian regime attack “has the potential to create a humanitarian emergency at a scale not yet seen” in the seven-year civil war, Alaraby reported.

An estimated 2.9 million people live in the northern region of Idlib, half of them already displaced from other areas in Syria as opposition supporters fled there from other areas captured by government forces.

Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF director of emergency programs, said that the agency has drawn up contingency plans including providing clean water and nutritional supplies to some of the estimated 450,000 to 700,000 people who could flee an attack.

“It’s more than one million kids… When you hear the kind of military rhetoric about an offensive and all that, I think it’s important to remember that it’s not just against a group of armed men,” Fontaine told Reuters in Geneva.

“There are some children who have been displaced seven times already, going from one place to the other. It means that their coping mechanisms, their resilience is very drained at the moment so they are particularly vulnerable. That’s a major concern obviously.”

Children have seen and experienced things that no child ever should

Save the Children International CEO, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, said:“We are deeply concerned for the hundreds of thousands of children in Idlib. Any offensive there could have devastating consequences for these children, about half of whom have already had to flee their homes in other parts of Syria.

We know that 2017 has been the most deadly year for children in Syria. In just the first four months of this year, nearly a million people were displaced – the highest level of the conflict. Two out of every three children have lost a loved one, had their house bombed or shelled, or suffered war-related injuries. Many are also suffering from severe ‘toxic stress’.

“During seven years of war these children have seen and experienced things that no child ever should. Places that should be safe like schools, hospitals, houses and playgrounds have all come under attack. We fear that the same will now happen in Idlib if the warring parties do not pull back from the brink.

The lives of Syrian children living in Idlib province must be protected at all costs. We call on all parties to do everything in their power to protect children.  They must uphold their obligations to ensure children and other civilians are protected, and work together to reach a negotiated solution to the crisis in North-West Syria that spares further suffering.

Schools, hospitals and other civilian spaces must never be targeted. It’s time for the suffering of Syrian children to end.

There are around 10,000 jihadi fighters settled in Idlib

The province also has an array of rebel forces including jihadists associated with Al Qaeda, which Syria and its allies say they must get rid of, nytimes reported.

According to the UN, there are around 10,000 jihadi fighters settled in the area. Civilians fear the possible use of chemical weapons in the whole region given the high concentration of al-Qaeda-linked groups located there, nyatoday told.

Civilians flee towards Aleppo or Hama and Homs

If there is an assault, civilians would be expected to flee towards Aleppo or Hama and Homs, rather than to Turkey, he said.

“We are not part of a discussion on humanitarian corridors at this stage. But I think what is important for us is that people who want to be able to move can move as long as they want to do it and they do it in safety and security,” Fontaine said.

Analysts and aid workers say there is still a window of opportunity to avoid the humanitarian impact of a full-scale offensive, Telegraph reported.

Humanitarian agencies are already struggling to respond to the needs of the estimated 3.9 million people in Idlib province and surrounding areas.

 

Read more from shafaqna:

Iran called for militants to be “cleaned out” of Syria’s Idlib province

New Syrian flashpoint: Tensions in Idlib pose a threat to the ‘entire world’

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