Violence drops in Syria but conflict still "tearing families apart": O'Brien

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Stephen O’Brien. UN Photo/Kim Haughton

There have been reports of a significant drop in violence in some areas of war-torn Syria, a top UN humanitarian official readily acknowledged to members of the Security Council on Tuesday.

But Stephen O'Brien warned in the same breath that such advances "continue to be counter-weighed by the reality of a conflict that continues to devastate the civilian population."

Four "de-escalation zones" were established in early May after a deal was struck in the Kazakh capital Astana between Syrian warring parties, negotiated by Turkey, Iran and Russia.

Jocelyne Sambira has more.

"The conflict in Syria continues to tear families apart, inflict brutal suffering on the innocent and leaves them pleading for protection and justice."

That's how the UN Under-Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs, Stephen O'Brien, began his briefing to the Security Council on the situation in Syria.

Just last week, he recalled, 30 children and women were gravely injured in a "heinous" attack by ISIL extremists on besieged neighbourhoods in Deir ez-Zor as they were lining up for water.

Here's Mr O'Brien.

"Tens of thousands of children have been killed, and for those who have survived till today, the outlook remains bleak. Children have been forcibly detained; they have been tortured, subjected to sexual violence, forcibly recruited and in some cases executed. Close to seven million children in Syria live in poverty. Nearly 1.75 million children remain out of school and another 1.35 million are at risk of dropping out." 

Meanwhile, more than 100 civilians have also become victims of airstrikes against ISIL in the north eastern governorates of Al Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor. 

The top UN humanitarian chief urged the 15 diplomats to do all they can to help the Astana talks succeed, adding that the UN "stood ready to sit with all the Syrian parties to make the accord workable." 

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Duration: 1’25″

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