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Civilians die in Idlib: UN

Civilians die in Idlib: UN

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has announced that at least 105 civilians have lost their lives in the Idlib region since the end of April.

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Marta Hurtado, a spokesperson for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that civilian casualties have reached an alarming level in the ongoing conflicts in and around the city of Idlib in Syria.

Hurtado said 105 civilians, including women and children, have lost their lives since the end of April.

The UN Human Rights Office is extremely worried about the military escalation in northwestern Syria, despite the announcement of a recent 72-hour ceasefire.

There has been some reduction in violence, but airstrikes and ground-based attacks continue to take place in various parts of Idlib and Hama governorates.

The situation remains volatile and the possibility of renewed clashes is high, worsening the prospects for some 3 million civilians caught in the crossfire.

Both pro-Government forces and non-State armed groups fighting in northern Syria appear to have failed to respect the principles of distinction and proportionality under international humanitarian law, resulting in a high number of civilian casualties and injuries and significant damage to civilian objects, according to information recorded by the UN Human Rights Office.

Military objects have been placed in close proximity to civilians and civilian objects, resulting in civilian deaths and injuries, and causing significant damage to civilian infrastructures such as hospitals, mosques, schools, and markets.

Non-State armed groups have launched ground-based attacks on areas under the control of Government forces and hit residential neighborhoods and settlements for displaced people in Hama governorate and Aleppo city.

From 8 to 16 May, multiple attacks by pro-Government forces were registered, resulting in at least 56 civilians killed - including many women and children - and severe damage to five schools and one hospital. In the same period, attacks by non-State armed groups were reported, causing at least 17 civilian deaths, mainly women and children.

Since this latest military escalation started at the end of April, at least 105 civilians have been killed, and at least 200,000 people have fled the hostilities in southern Idlib and northern Hama.

In addition, the Office is also worried about the fate of people in the al-Hol camp in al-Hassakeh Governorate in the northeast of the country. Currently, the camps host more than 70,000 people living in dire conditions.

The approximately 2,500 children under 12, are being kept with their mothers.

Meanwhile, children older than 12 have reportedly been taken away from their mothers and are being held in separate unidentified "settlements". Other reports suggest that YPG-PKK is detaining those children in secret detention facilities in al-Hassakeh.

Reportedly, they are neither allowed to communicate with their families nor have the families been informed about their whereabouts or status.

While the temporary restrictions of movement imposed on civilians at al-Hol and in other camps for internally displaced people (IDPs) run by the Kurdish authorities may be part of a screening and vetting process, the Office is concerned about the lack of clarity regarding how long these restrictions will last.

Parties to the conflict are obliged to do everything feasible not to put civilians in harm’s way.

The forced removal of civilians for reasons related to the conflict may be done so only in order to guarantee their own security or due to military necessity and for no other reason. The failure of civilians to respond to an order to evacuate an area in no way affects their protected status under international humanitarian law.

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