New Syria fighting represents ‘giant powder keg’, warns aid veteran, as he leaves UN stage

Violaine Martin Jan Egeland, Special Advisor to the UN Special Envoy for Syria briefs the press during Intra-Syrian talks, Geneva.

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.

It is unclear if rockets fired into the Syrian city of Aleppo last weekend contained chemical toxins, a senior humanitarian adviser to the UN said on Thursday, adding that if they did, it would constitute a war crime.

“We as the UN do not know who sent in the mortars in western Aleppo that may have included chemical agents,” said Jan Egeland, co-chair of the International Syria Support Group’s Humanitarian Access Task Force and Senior Advisor of the UN Special Envoy for Syria.

“Therefore, the OPCW, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, will investigate; the World Health Organization (WHO) has rushed medical supplies to the hospitals treating these people. If it is use of a chemical weapon, it is a war crime.”

Mr. Egeland’s comments coincide with an escalation of fighting in Idlib in northern Syria, which is home to opposition militants and around three million civilians.

The escalation was a “giant powder keg” in a heavily populated area, he warned, adding that airstrikes had resumed after two months of relative calm.

“What is true is that a number of groups have sent a number of grenades out of the zone,” Mr. Egeland said, “and that Government and other forces have sent – as I see it, equal numbers of grenades – into the zone.”

A fragile ceasefire between Government forces and opposition fighters has held in Idlib for 10 weeks, guaranteed by Russia, Turkey and Iran, who re-committed to the deal at talks in Astana, Kazakhstan, on Thursday.

Mr. Egeland, who welcomed the original deal, warned at the time that the alternative – clashes between opposition and Government forces – would cause massive bloodshed and destruction similar to that inflicted on other major cities, including Homs, Aleppo, and Raqqa.

In his last press encounter as co-chair of the humanitarian task force before stepping down, Mr. Egeland offered insight into the difficulties of achieving the mechanism’s two main aims since it was established in early 2016: securing aid access and protecting civilians.

Among its challenges were the fact that towns and villages had been besieged, hundreds of thousands of people had died and 12 million had been driven from their homes during the more than seven-year war, he noted.

Turning to the 23 countries that attended task force meetings in Geneva, Mr. Egeland insisted that “too few acted courageously” to hold back the warring parties’ worst excesses against civilians.

“All hell was let loose on them and no one was willing and able to shield and protect them,” he said, adding nonetheless that “what happened here in Geneva helped cause some of the few really achievements, also in the protection of civilians”.

The task force’s successes included securing aid deliveries to the majority of people in besieged areas in 2016, Mr. Egeland said, compared with only two per cent a year earlier, and organizing the first high-altitude air-drops of aid to besieged people in Deir Ez-Zor in eastern Syria.

‘No tangible progress’ at latest talks to end Syria war

In a joint statement released on Thursday from Astana – where regular meetings have been held since January 2017 – Iran, Russia and Turkey reiterated their support for the UN-backed launch of a Constitutional Committee for Syria in Geneva “that would enjoy support of the Syrian parties…at the soonest possible time”.

Staffan de Mistura, UN Special Envoy for Syria, who has been leading efforts to form a Constitutional Committee, noted on Thursday that the Astana meeting had achieved “no tangible progress” in resolving a 10-month stalemate on its composition, as had been outlined in Sochi in January this year.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

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

What does a good digital ID look like?

Time to make a fundamental choice about the future of healthcare

North Korean families facing deep ‘hunger crisis’ after worst harvest in 10 years, UN food assessment shows

Europe’s poor investment in digital is threatening prosperity. Here’s what its start-ups need

The ‘abuse of food relief in Yemen’ must end now

UN chief calls for ‘enlightened self-interest’ from world leaders to save ‘the whole planet’ from climate change

India-UN fund gets 22 development projects off the ground in first year

Autumn 2018 Economic Forecast: sustained but less dynamic growth amid high uncertainty

Peru is building a new international airport near Machu Picchu – and archaeologists are worried

On technology and medical ethics

Understanding the gender gap in the Global South

EU and Japan agree on free-trade deal and fill the post-TPP void

‘Essential step’ towards universal health care made at pivotal UN conference

UN underscores the need to celebrate indigenous peoples, not confine them

Syria: Urgent, concrete actions needed, to protect children too young to ‘make sense of this senseless war’

It is me

How and why Mercedes fakes the EU fuel consumption tests

No barriers to free flow of non-personal data in the EU

Visa-free access to the EU for UK nationals and to the UK for EU nationals

Migration crisis, a human crisis after all

Gaza probe finds ‘reasonable grounds’ Israeli forces committed international human rights violations

Electronic cigarette: a still controversial qualitative imbalance

Summertime Consultation: 84% want Europe to stop changing the clock

Donor countries need to reform development finance to meet 2030 pledge

Draghi will not hesitate to zero ECB’s basic interest rate

Iceland to take vacated US seat on Human Rights Council

Can we create an empathic alternative to the capitalist system?

Uganda’s Ebola preparedness ‘will go a long way’ says WHO chief

Humanitarian aid: EU mobilises over €18 million for the Central African Republic in 2019

This company helps women to become solar entrepreneurs

EU Member States test their cybersecurity preparedness for free and fair EU elections

India m2m + iot Forum Hosts Successful 4th Editions of India Smart Cities Forum and India Smart Villages Forum

Despite funding crisis, Palestine refugee classrooms set to stay open, says UNRWA

The MWC14 Sting Special Edition

EU’s Mogherini visits Turkey “to step up engagement” and highlight interests

Worldwide UN family celebrates enduring universal values of human rights

The challenge to be a good healthcare professional

How can we make entrepreneurship serve the greater good?

German opposition win in Lower Saxony felt all over Europe

Fighting crime: faster EU-wide exchange of non-EU nationals’ criminal records

EU-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement sees the light as Moscow’s reaction once more looms

First full satellite survey of devastated ancient Aleppo raises recovery hopes

Thursday’s Daily Brief: Women in peacekeeping, the arrest of Sudan’s leader, updates on Libya, Nigeria and Syria

The end of Spitzenkandidat: EU leaders concluded unexpectedly on EU top jobs

Monsanto lawsuit ruling a ‘significant recognition’ of victims’ human rights, say UN rights experts

Learn from the margin, not the center: digital innovation with social impact as transformative force bridging digital divide

Why rich countries are seeing more poverty

Get off the path of deadly emissions, UN chief Guterres to urge in key climate change speech

Western Balkans: European Parliament takes stock of 2018 progress

UN chief ‘following very closely’ reports of chemical weapons use in Syria’s Aleppo

New EU rules to boost crowdfunding platforms and protect investors

Microplastics have spread right to the sea bed, study finds

Finnish Prime Minister calls for a more united EU of concrete actions

US, Russia oblige each other in Syria and Ukraine selling off allies

MEPs agree on future regional and cohesion funding

6 ways to ensure AI and new tech works for – not against – humanity

Trade barriers: EU removes record number in response to surge in protectionism

Public Policies for LGBT in Brazil

Here are 3 alternative visions for the future of work

Brexit talks started with a London handicap and Brussels’ sternness

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