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

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

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

HPV vaccine: the silver bullet that saves women

Is there a chance for the West to win the war on terror?

Five years down the drain

4 things to know about the state of conflict today

Europe again the black sheep at the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors

Towards a tobacco free India

Climate change: Direct and indirect impacts on health

MWC 2016 LIVE: Xiaomi looks to revive growth with flagships

Why Eurozone’s problems may end in a few months

Work Together to Build a New Type of International Relations and a Community with a Shared Future for Humanity

Greece to stay in the euro area but the cost to its people remains elusive

Who will secure Lithuania?

5 technologies that will forever change global trade

To hope or doubt? The state of women’s progress in the world

UN, Somali Government seek $80 million in immediate relief for flood-affected populations

How do we build an ethical framework for the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

An American duel in Brussels: Salesforce against Microsoft over Linkedin deal

Guinea President Alpha Condé: “We must tackle the root causes of migration”

VW emissions scandal: While U.S. car owners are vindicated, Europe still unable to change its laws and protect its consumers

A new catastrophic phase in the Syrian carnage

‘Two pack’ austerity package in force but with less vigor

Eurozone and Britain heading in different directions

This is what countries are doing to fight plastic waste

5 ways to net a sustainable future for aquaculture

COP21 Breaking News_10 December:#ParisAgreement: Points that remain in suspense

DiscoverEU: 15,000 travel passes up for grabs to explore the EU this summer

European Fund for Transition to support more workers made redundant

A day in the life of a refugee: the role of nations and citizens of the world

Jade Spring Meeting 2017 – day 2: Coporate workshops, general assembly and magna moment

How can we build a workforce for our digital future?

“Leaked” TTIP document breaks post 8th negotiations round silence and opens door to critics

New UN agriculture agency report underscores value of fishing in fight against global hunger

Service and Sacrifice: For Ghana, UN peacekeeping is a ‘noble opportunity to serve humanity’

The UN supports Europe’s military action in Libya and the Mediterranean; Russia and China agree

Achieving targets on energy helps meet other Global Goals, UN forum told

The Changing Scope of International Economic Relations – Chinese Leadership in the 21st Century

EU to present a “hefty” exit bill to the UK moments before Brexit negotiations

A Sting Exclusive: Towards better business opportunities for the EU and its neighbours, Commissioner Hahn live from European Business Summit 2015

These clothes grow with your child

UN’s AIDS agency ‘greatly encouraged’ by latest scientific breakthrough showing cure is possible

Counting spillovers from the fast track EU-US free trade agreement

What the car industry has done to help fight climate change – and what it needs to do next

What data dominance really means, and how countries can compete

Gig economy: Employment Committee MEPs want to boost workers’ rights

‘Crimes against humanity,’ ‘war crimes’ and risk of new ethnic violence in DR Congo, warn UN experts

Everything you need to know about the US government shutdown

The world’s e-waste is a huge problem. It’s also a golden opportunity

Trump’s blasting win causes uncertainty and turbulence to the global financial markets

French elections: by the time the EU economy revives and the migration crisis is solved extremists could take over Europe

South Sudan: UN condemns ‘brutal’ sexual assaults on roads to Bentiu

Project Manager – 2024

EU-US resume trade negotiations under the spell of NSA surveillance

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte: “Europe must listen to the people”

These coastal countries are sinking the fastest

European Union: From financial consolidation to deeper political division

Volkswagen scandal update: “We want clarity fast, but it is equally important to have the complete picture”, Commission’s spokesperson underscores from Brussels

What the global Internet’s stakeholders can learn from Europe’s new data law

Parliament backs a modernised EU electoral law

Women in Iceland have walked out of work to dispute the gender pay gap

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