Security Council: UN deputy chief calls for greater protection for civilians

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Jan Eliasson. UN Photo/Loey Felipe

Efforts to protect civilians caught in conflict should be redoubled, the UN Deputy Secretary-General has said.

Jan Eliasson was addressing the Security Council which on Tuesday held an open debate on the issue.

Dianne Penn reports.

The UN Deputy Secretary-General said civilians comprised 92 per cent of people killed or injured by explosive weapons in populated areas in 2014.

He provided snapshots of some of the violations against civilians caught in conflicts across the globe.

They included the siege in Madaya, in Syria, where thousands of people were denied food and access to medical treatment for months.

Mr Eliasson also spoke of the surge in attacks on hospitals and health centres, for example in Afghanistan and Yemen.

Humanitarian workers have also been targeted, and the "barbarity" of armed groups such as Boko Haram and Daesh, or ISIL, was also highlighted.

"We must redouble our efforts and take ever more concrete action to ensure the protection of civilians and enhance respect for international humanitarian and human rights law. It is time to restore knowledge, awareness and faith in these instruments and demonstrate in practice that we are serious about placing human beings at the centre of our work at the UN.

Mr Eliasson listed four ways the international community can protect civilians, starting with reminding warring parties of their obligation to uphold international law.

But he also said that more must be done to prevent conflicts and other situations that put civilians at risk, which would require "consideration and action" by the Security Council.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 1’31″

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