2016 "tragic" year for civilians in Syria

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Paulo Pinheiro, Chairperson of the Commission of inquiry on Syria. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

2016 has been a "tragic year" for civilians in Syria, Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, the head of a UN-mandated human rights inquiry for the country has said.

The independent panel was set up by the Human Rights Council in 2011 to investigate and record all human rights violations and allegations of crimes against humanity and war crimes.

The civil war in Syria started over five years ago and it's estimated around half a million people have been killed.

Jocelyne Sambira has the details.

In its last report, the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria warned that the country was "reduced to ruins" and that "civilians were paying the price."

The panel gave details about the air strikes, ground shelling, and rocket fire that have consistently been used in residential areas as well as markets, hospitals and schools.

Meanwhile, the military offensive carried out by the Syrian military and its allies to retake the city of Aleppo has been described by the UN as a "complete meltdown of humanity".

Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, Chair of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, spoke to UN News on Wednesday.

"I think if we compare the year 2016, that happily is ending in a few days, I think that it was the worst in terms of attacks against the civilian population; that is you have an escalation in terms of the military involvement by all sides against the civilian population. Then it was a tragic year for the civilian population."

Mr Piheiro noted that there were moments of hope and frustration, referring to the efforts of the UN special envoy for Syria, Staffan De Mistura, and his team to conduct negotiations between the warring parties.

The new UN Secretary-General-elect, António Guterres, has promised to make Syria his top priority once he takes office on 1 January 2017.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.



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