UN envoy says he ‘is ready to go to Idlib’ to help ensure civilian safety amid rising fears of government offensive

WFP/Hussam Al Saleh In this file photo, WFP delivers emergency aid to locations in rural Idlib. Amid fears of a Government offensive there, the UN is warning of a possible humanitarian catastrophe.

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.
A massive military escalation by the Government of Syria to retake Idlib risks a “worst case scenario”,  United Nations negotiator Staffan de Mistura said on Thursday.

Speaking to journalists in Geneva, the UN Special Envoy for Syria offered to personally escort residents of Idlib to safety ahead of any attack on the last main opposition-held area in the country, echoing an offer to do the same in Aleppo in 2016.

The envoy’s comments reiterate an earlier appeal by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, who cautioned against a full-scale military operation and expressed deep concern over the growing risk of a “humanitarian catastrophe” in the war-torn province, which borders Turkey and is home to nearly three million people.

“There is…no other Idlib, where can they go?” Mr. de Mistura said. “Where can anyone go? So, for every time there was a crisis and there was a conclusion to that one crisis, there was a place where many could opt to go. There is no other Idlib.”

The fate of Idlib is important because it’s mainly civilian population has been displaced or evacuated from other conflict zones in the country amid territorial gains by Government forces in the more than seven-year war.

It is also the last zone in Syria that is covered by an internationally-agreed ceasefire deal, Mr. de Mistura explained, a reference to a de-escalation pact between Russia, Turkey and Iran, known as the ‘Astana guarantors’ after the Kazakh capital where the deal was struck.

“Why such a hurry and not provide more time, to allow more discussions, especially among the Astana guarantors?” he said. “They are the ones … who announced and provided the guarantees originally for this last but hugely inhabited de-escalation area.”

In the past six months alone, a reported 500,000 people have arrived in Idlib after fleeing Government offensives in Dera’a, eastern Ghouta and other opposition-held areas.

The north-western province is also the base for “an extremely high concentration of foreign fighters”, Mr. de Mistura said, noting that this amounted to approximately 10,000 Al Nusra or Al Qaeda members, who have been recognized as terrorists by the UN.

The extremists are understood to have the capability of weaponizing chlorine – as is the Government of Syria – Mr. de Mistura said, highlighting the risks of a “worst case scenario” occurring in the event of a military attack.

Although “no-one questions” the Syrian Government’s right to fight UN-identified terrorists, nor its right to recover “all of its territorial integrity”, there was “no justification” to using heavy weapons in densely populated areas, he added.

UN Photo/Violaine Martin
Staffan de Mistura, United Nations Special Envoy for Syria.

Reiterating the UN Secretary General’s statement on Wednesday, he noted that the systematic use of indiscriminate weapons in populated areas may amount to war crimes.

It would be a “tragic irony” at the end of the war inside Syria with a “most horrific tragedy” involving large numbers of civilians, Mr. de Mistura insisted, ahead of his offer to escort people away from Idlib.

His offer to do the same in Aleppo in 2016 had been rejected by Al Nusra, he reminded journalists, saying that this had led to thousands of people dying.

“So I’m once again prepared, personally and physically, to get involved myself, with the Government cooperation this time, because that is an area where they are in charge outside Idlib,” he said. To ensure such a temporary corridor(s) would be feasible and guaranteed for the people, so that they can then could return to their own places untouched once this is over.”

Responding to questions, the UN official said he had no “specific information” that an attack on Idlib was imminent. “But I do have eyes and information regarding preparations and build-ups and messages and declarations,” he said. “And the fact that while we are talking, two of the main guarantors – in this case Turkey and the Russian Federation – are trying and we hope will succeed, in avoiding the worst-case scenario.”

UN-led efforts to secure a peaceful solution to the conflict are set to continue with meetings planned in Geneva on 10 and 11 September with representatives from Russia, Turkey and Iran, Mr de Mistura said.

Those discussions are due to be followed on 14 September by encounters on constitutional matters with senior delegations from seven other Member States: Egypt, France, Germany, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Scientists in Sweden are studying the climate-cooling effects of spruce forests

Future Forces Forum: Prague will be hosting the most important project in the field of Defence and Security

Ercom, cutting-edge Telco solutions from Europe

Why medicine is relevant to the battle against climate change

EU Budget 2019 deal: EP boosts support for researchers and the young

This is what you need to know about the Iran nuclear deal

Politics is failing to protect the Amazon. It’s time for finance to step up instead

China is building 8 new airports a year

States with power and influence to end suffering of Yemenis must take action ‘immediately’ – UN rights chief

Assembly of European Regions @ European Business Summit 2014: Made in Europe – Made of Regions

Macron plans for Europe, Brexit and banks but vague on France

“We always honor our words, and in that respect we expect our partners to honor their words as well”, China’s State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi highlights live from Brussels

Every bite of burger boosts harmful greenhouse gases: UN Environment Agency

At Ministerial session, UN regional office in Beirut to focus on technology for sustainable development

On the euro but out of it?

Women’s rights in Asia – how far have we come?

UN condemns ‘cowardly’ attack on Libya’s national oil corporation headquarters

Unanswered questions for Europe’s youth in President Juncker’s State of Union

Europe’s dirty air kills 400,000 people every year

Pro-EU forces won a 70% triumph in the European elections

European Union: From financial consolidation to deeper political division

Cape Town’s crisis shows us the real cost of water

A record one million Syrians displaced over six months, during six key battles: UN investigators

Extra mild ECB tapering of QE and zero interest rates keep euro low

South Sudan’s foreseen genocide: from “Never Again” to “Again and Again and Again”?

Are the G20 leaders ready to curb corporate tax-avoidance?

Parliament ready to fight for a different EU budget

UN emergency relief fund has ‘never been more critical’: Guterres

COP21 Breaking News_09 December: List of Recent Climate Funding Announcements

UN gender agency hails record-breaking number of women in new US Congress as ‘historic victory’

Employment and Social Developments in Europe: 2018 review confirms positive trends but highlights challenges, in particular linked to automation and digitalisation

Palm Oil: With Malaysia cracking down on production, what’s the alternative?

There is a forgotten solution to climate change that we must invest in – nature

Yemen: Major UN aid boost for ‘up to 14 million’ as country risks becoming a land of ‘living ghosts’

‘More support’ vital to put Afghanistan back on a ‘positive trajectory’ – top UN officials

Bank resolutions and recapitalisations by the ESM may end up politically swayed

UN human rights chief denounces grave ‘assaults’ on fundamental rights of Palestinian people

How can we regulate disruptive technologies?

Eurozone hasn’t escaped the deflation danger

IFMSA and IPSF on the Health of Migrants and Refugees

Does the West play the Syrian game in Egypt?

EU steps up its strategy for connecting Europe and Asia

“A global threat lies ahead worsened after the EU’s green light to the Bayer-Monsanto merger”, a Sting Exclusive by the President of Slow Food

Public health through universal health coverage can help to attain many SDGs

Will ECB win against low inflation by not following Quantitave Easing?

A Sting Exclusive: “Youth voice must be heard in climate change negotiations!”, Bérénice Jond Board Member of European Youth Forum demands from Brussels

Global Citizen-Volunteer Internships

How storytelling can be a force for social change

Here are 3 lessons Europe can learn from China’s flourishing start-ups

COP21 Business update: Companies urge now for carbon pricing as coal is still a big issue

Can technology save life on Earth?

No hard drivers in sight to remodel the stagnating affairs of the EU

EU and India re-open talks over strategic partnership while prepare for a Free Trade Agreement

A Sting Exclusive: “Global Climate: Our Common Responsibility”, S&P MEP Miriam Dalli underlines from Brussels

250 days until the European Parliament elections

EU approves disbursement of €500 million in Macro-Financial Assistance to Ukraine

GREXIT final wrap-up: nobody believed Aesop’s boy who cried wolf so many times

Everyone has ‘a moral imperative’ to uphold the rights of persons with disabilities, says UN chief

Dangerous Trumpism in the Middle East with an anti-European edge

EU budget agreement rejected by the European Parliament

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s