International

Major Idlib raid could spark worst catastrophe of 21st century: UN

Major Idlib raid could spark worst catastrophe of 21st century: UN
Mark Lowcock
Geneva/Washington, Sep 10 (Agencies) | Publish Date: 9/10/2018 12:55:15 PM IST

The UN’s new humanitarian chief warned Monday that a large-scale military operation against the rebel-held Syrian province of Idlib could create “the worst humanitarian catastrophe” of this century, AFP reported.

“There needs to be ways of dealing with this problem that don’t turn the next few months in Idlib into the worst humanitarian catastrophe with the biggest loss of life in the 21st century,” Mark Lowcock told reporters in Geneva.

His remarks came as Syrian troops, backed by Russia and Iran, massed around the northwestern province ahead of an expected onslaught against the largest rebel-held zone left in the country.

Since 2015, Idlib has been home to a complex array of anti-regime forces: secular rebels, Islamists, Syrian jihadists with ties to Al-Qaeda -- and their foreign counterparts.

It is home to some three million people -- around half of them displaced from other parts of the country, according to the United Nations.

Lowcock acknowledged that “there is a large number of fighters there, including terrorists from proscribed organisations.” 

But he stressed that “there are 100 civilians, most of them women and children, for every fighter in Idlib.”  “We are extremely alarmed at the situation, because of the number of people and the vulnerability of the people,” he said, warning that “civilians are severely at risk”.

A major military operation in Idlib is expected to pose a humanitarian nightmare because there is no nearby opposition territory left in Syria where people could be evacuated to.

While appealing to the warring sides in Syria to avoid a catastrophe, Lowcock said the UN and other aid organisations were all doing “very detailed planning” to be able to respond quickly in the case of a major assault on the province.

“We very actively preparing for the possibility that civilians move in huge numbers in multiple directions,” he said.

Assad approves gas attack in Idlib:Report  

President Bashar al-Assad has approved a gas attack in the Idlib province, which is the country’s last rebel stronghold, a report on Sunday said.

Reports of Assad’s approval comes about a week after President Trump warned the strongman and his allies not to “recklessly attack” the province. Trump called any gas attack a potential “grave humanitarian mistake.”

The Wall Street Journal, citing U.S. officials, was first to report on Assad.

U.N. officials believe an offensive on Idlib would trigger a wave of displacement that could uproot an estimated 800,000 people and discourage refugees from returning home. The U.S. and France have warned an Idlib offensive would trigger a humanitarian crisis and warned that a chemical attack in Idlib would prompt a western retaliation. The Wall Street Journal reported that the international pressure did little to sway Assad, who benefits from support from Russia and Iran. The report said Assad has approved the use of chlorine gas.

 

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

Phone:+91-3862-248 489,Fax: +91-3862-248 500
Advt.:+91-3862-2482 267, e-mail:npdesk@gmail.com

QUICK LINKS

SUNDAY POST

Join us on

© Nagaland Post 2018. All Rights are Reserved
Designed by : 4C Plus