Syria: UN humanitarian and human rights chiefs urge immediate safe passage for civilians, wounded trapped in Al-Qusayr

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Newly arrived Syrian refugees in Jordan after crossing the border. [Photo: UNHCR/J. Kohler]

Top UN officials have called for immediate safe passage for civilians in Al-Qusayr in Syria.

UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay have both expressed extreme alarm "by reports that thousands of civilians are trapped amidst the heavy fighting that has engulfed the besieged Syrian town of Al-Qusayr".

In a statement Saturday, the UN officials say they "understand there may also be as many as 1,500 wounded people in urgent need of immediate evacuation for emergency medical treatment, and that the general situation in Al-Qusayr is desperate".

And, they're also "receiving reports that civilian neighbourhoods continue to be indiscriminately attacked, and that other major violations of human rights and international humanitarian law are being committed".

Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos and Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay are calling on "all parties to immediately halt all actions that might result in civilian loss of life and damage, and to permit civilians to move to safer areas". They urge the parties to the conflict "to agree to an immediate ceasefire to allow humanitarian agencies to evacuate the wounded and provide life-saving treatment and supplies".

Both the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Emergency Relief Coordinator "remind the Government and other parties to the Syrian conflict that they have an obligation under international human rights and international humanitarian law to protect civilians and allow neutral, impartial humanitarian organizations safe access to all people in need".

It is not known how many people remain trapped in Al-Qusayr. More than ten thousand have already fled to towns in the region including Hasiya and Al-Dumina, where they have sought temporary shelter in schools and unfinished buildings. They urgently need food, bedding, clean water and medical care.

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration: 1’27″

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