GENEVA / SYRIA UPDATE

16-Mar-2018 00:02:46
The UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) today expressed deep concerns about alarming reports from Afrin in north western Syria about civilian deaths and injuries due to airstrikes and ground-based strikes, as well as reports that civilians are being prevented from leaving Afrin city by Kurdish forces. UNTV CH
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STORY: GENEVA / SYRIA UPDATE
TRT: 2:46
SOURCE: UNTV CH
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 16 MARCH 2018 GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
SHOTLIST
1. Wide shot, exterior, Palais des Nations
2. Wide shot, press briefing room
3. SOUNDBITE (English) Ravina Shamdasani, Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):
“Hundreds of thousands of civilians are at risk, including those recently displaced from other areas captured by Turkish-led forces. We have received reports that only those civilians who have contacts within the Kurdish authority or the Kurdish armed forces have been able to leave, but even they have to make a treacherous path through, risking shelling and explosive hazards only to reach checkpoints manned by Government-backed armed groups where they may only be permitted to cross after paying a bribe”.
4. Med shot, journalists
5. SOUNDBITE (English) Ravina Shamdasani, Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):
“The humanitarian situation is also deeply worrying and reportedly worsening, with tremendous pressure on Afrin hospital – which is the only medical facility equipped for major operations – it is struggling to cope with the influx of injured people”.
6. Wide shot, journalists
7. SOUNDBITE (English) Marixie Mercado, Spokesperson for UNICEF: “Reports from inside Afrin indicate that dozens of children have been killed and many more injured since the start of the hostilities in the district. For the last 10 days children, families have suffered severe water shortages as a source of water for Afrin city has reportedly been cut off. Families are relying on untreated water and boreholes which potentially increases the risk of water borne disease for about 250,000 people”.
8. Med shot, journalists
9. SOUNDBITE (English) Marixie Mercado, Spokesperson for UNICEF: “Eastern Ghouta has had the highest levels of acute malnutrition recorded since the start of the conflict. I believe it was 11,9 percent acute malnutrition.”
10. Close up, journalists
11. SOUNDBITE (English) Fadela Chaib, Spokesperson for the World Health Organisation (WHO):
“Syrian Arab Red Crescent informed WHO that there is a number of wounded and critically ill patients among the people who left eastern Ghouta. WHO supported vaccination teams in rural Damascus with Polio vaccines for all children under age of 5 at crossing point and in the shelters. We have also procured for the Syrian Arab Red Crescent 40 hospital beds and WHO has mobilised 9 tons of live saving and life sustaining health supplies for 180,000 medical treatment to be used by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent”.
12. Close up, journalist
13. Wide shot, journalists
14. Wide shot, journalists
15. Wide shot, journalists
STORYLINE
The UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) today (16 Mar) expressed deep concerns about alarming reports from Afrin in north western Syria about civilian deaths and injuries due to airstrikes and ground-based strikes, as well as reports that civilians are being prevented from leaving Afrin city by Kurdish forces.

Speaking to media in Geneva, OHCHR’s spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani said that “hundreds of thousands of civilians are at risk, including those recently displaced from other areas captured by Turkish-led forces”.

Shamdasani said “we have received reports that only those civilians who have contacts within the Kurdish authority or the Kurdish armed forces have been able to leave, but even they have to make a treacherous path through, risking shelling and explosive hazards only to reach checkpoints manned by Government-backed armed groups where they may only be permitted to cross after paying a bribe.”

Hundreds of families fled the Syrian town of Afrin towards nearby villages held by pro-Syrian government forces overnight as Turkish forces shelled the town.

According to Shamdasani “the humanitarian situation is also deeply worrying and reportedly worsening, with tremendous pressure on Afrin hospital – which is the only medical facility equipped for major operations – it is struggling to cope with the influx of injured people”.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) also registered its concern about the impact on civilians of the assault on Afrin launched in January. Turkish forces and allied Syrian militia are targeting Afrin in an offensive against the Kurdish YPG militia in north-western Syria.

UNICEF spokesperson Marixie Mercado said that “reports from inside Afrin indicate that dozens of children have been killed and many more injured since the start of the hostilities in the district”.

She added that “for the last 10 days, children, families have suffered severe water shortages as a source of water for Afrin city has reportedly been cut off. Families are relying on untreated water and boreholes which potentially increases the risk of water borne disease for about 250,000 people”.

The other main battle currently under way in Syria’s war is the assault on the rebel-held eastern Ghouta which began a month ago.

Thousands of civilians have fled the besieged Syrian rebel enclave of eastern Ghouta, in what is believed to be the largest exodus in one day in the country’s seven-year war, as air strikes continue. Water, medicine and food is lacking.

According to UNICEF the level of severe acute malnutrition measured in 7 out of 12 children is “extraordinary”. Its spokesperson Marixie Mercado said that “Eastern Ghouta has had the highest levels of acute malnutrition recorded since the start of the conflict. I believe it was 11,9 percent acute malnutrition.”

Eastern Ghouta is home to 400,000 people, and it has been under a government siege since mid-2013.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has been able to provide medical aid, according to its spokesperson Fadela Chaib. She said that the “Syrian Arab Red Crescent informed WHO that there is a number of wounded and critically ill patients among the people who left eastern Ghouta”.

Chaib added that “WHO supported vaccination teams in rural Damascus with Polio vaccines for all children under age of 5 at crossing point and in the shelters. We have also procured for the Syrian Arab Red Crescent 40 hospital beds and WHO has mobilised 9 tons of live saving and life sustaining health supplies for 180,000 medical treatment to be used by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent”.

The Syrian war entered its eighth year this week having killed half a million people and driven more than 11 million from their homes, including nearly 6 million who have fled abroad in one of the worst refugee crises of modern times.
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