"Grotesque" human rights situation in Syria condemned

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Syrian refugee Shadi was living with a host family in North Lebanon and had returned briefly to Syria to visit family there. Upon returning via an unofficial border crossing, he was injured during an explosion. Photo: UNICEF/NYHQ2012-0221/Kate Brooks

Civilians in Syria are being used as "bargaining chips and cannon fodder," the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said on Thursday.

In a statement, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein expressed alarm over what he called the rapidly worsening human rights situation in and around the city of Aleppo and other parts of the country.

This follows the launch of a government offensive last week which has caused numerous deaths and forced thousands to seek safety.

Dianne Penn has more.

The High Commissioner reported that more than 50,000 people in the Governorate of Aleppo have been displaced since the latest round of hostilities.

He added that the operation reportedly was accompanied by numerous airstrikes by Russian and Syrian aircraft.

So far, dozens of civilians have been killed and some 300,000 people are at risk of being placed under siege.

Zeid said “shocking violations and abuses" are  being committed on a daily basis in Syria.

Cécile Pouilly is a spokesperson with the UN Human Rights Office which is located in Geneva.

"We condemn these terrible acts unequivocally. The parties in Syria are constantly sinking to new depths, without apparently caring in the slightest about the death and destruction they are wreaking across the country. Women and children, the elderly, the wounded and sick, the people with disabilities are being used as bargaining chips and cannon fodder day after day, week after week, month after month. This is a grotesque situation that must end."

 The UN human rights chief stressed that hundreds of thousands of people in other parts of Syria are also facing dire humanitarian conditions.

They include people living under sieges imposed by government forces and affiliated armed groups, and by armed opposition groups, such as ISIL.

The High Commissioner reminded the parties to the conflict of their obligation to protect civilians and allow full access for aid workers to help people in need.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 1’34″

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