Humanitarian chief deplores latest Syria airstrikes

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The ongoing conflict in Syria has pushed more than half the population into hunger and poverty. Photo: WFP File Photo/Abeer Etefa

Airstrikes that have reportedly caused scores of civilian casualties in the Syrian capital, Damascus, are unlawful, unacceptable and must stop, the top UN humanitarian official said Monday.

Stephen O'Brien, who heads the UN's emergency relief agency, OCHA, made his comments at the end of his first official visit to Syria.

More than 220,000 people have been killed in the four-year conflict which began as a popular uprising against President Bashar Al-Assad.

Daniel Johnson has more.

UN agency chief Stephen O'Brien wrapped up his three-day visit to Syria amid reports of airstrikes in a besieged part of Damascus that left scores dead and hundreds injured.

O'Brien, who's the head of the UN's emergency relief agency, OCHA, said that he was "horrified" by the total disrespect for civilian life.

And he appealed to "each and every part" to the four-year conflict to respect international humanitarian law, demanding that attacks on civilians "must stop".

In the old city of Homs in the west of the country, where almost every home has been destroyed, Stephen O'Brien said that all people wanted was peace.

The aid chief also spoke out against water cuts by non-state armed groups, calling them an "unacceptable weapon of war".

The cuts had left at least five million people without water for three days, OCHA said, while two million people in Aleppo had also suffered the same deprivation for 17 days.

During his visit the OCHA chief also met senior government officials where he reportedly emerged hopeful that "concrete steps" would be taken to strengthen humanitarian operations.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva.

Duration: 0'58"


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