UN rights chief: 1,000 civilians dead in Syria over 4 months

(File/AFP)
Updated 04 September 2019

UN rights chief: 1,000 civilians dead in Syria over 4 months

  • 304 children have been killed between April 29 and August 29
  • Thousands of children in northwest Syria to miss school: NGO

GENEVA, BEIRUT: The UN human rights chief says her office has tallied more than 1,000 civilian deaths in Syria over the last four months, the majority of them due to airstrikes and ground attacks by President Bashar Assad’s forces and their allies.
Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, says 1,089 civilians were killed in the war-battered country between April 29 and August 29, including 304 children.
She said nearly all — 1,031 — were reportedly attributable to government forces and their allies in Idlib and Hama provinces. Another 58 were caused by “non-state actors.”
Bachelet was speaking to reporters in Geneva on Wednesday to go over her first year in office.
Meanwhile, thousands of children risk missing out on their education in northwestern Syria after the months-long regime assault that has closed dozens of schools, a charity said.
A fragile cease-fire has held in the Idlib region since Saturday, following four months of air strikes that have killed hundreds of civilians and caused mass displacement.
“Thousands of children due to start the school year in northwest Syria may not have access to education” after the latest violence, Save the Children said.
Classes are set to start at the end of September, but just over half of the region’s 1,193 schools can still operate, it said.
“As the new school year starts, the remaining functional schools can only accommodate up to 300,000 of the 650,000 school-age children,” it said.
The heavy bombardment since late April has damaged or impacted 87 educational facilities, the Britain-based NGO said.
A further 200 schools are being used as shelters for those displaced by the fighting, it added.
The Idlib region is home to some three million people, almost half of whom have been displaced from other parts of Syria in the country’s eight-year war.
Children make up nearly half of the region’s total population, the United Nations says.
After bombardment damaging schools or forcing them to close, many parents are scared to send their children to those still open, Save the Children said.
“Teachers are telling us that parents are pleading with them to shut schools for fear of them being attacked,” the group’s Syria country director Sonia Khush said.
“Many children are dealing with losing their homes, loss and grief. They should not have to fear losing their lives whilst they try to learn,” she added.
Idlib has since January been ruled by Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, an alliance led by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate.
Syria’s conflict has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced more than half of the country’s pre-war population since starting in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.


Gunmen kill two women and 3 kids near Tripoli

Updated 8 min 6 sec ago

Gunmen kill two women and 3 kids near Tripoli

  • This is one of the systematic crimes carried out by militias against civilians

CAIRO: Gunmen killed two women and three children of the same family while they were driving on a highway near the capital, Tripoli, less than a week after an airstrike slammed into a house killing at least three civilians, a health official said Thursday.

The city has been the scene of fighting between rival militias since April. A UN-supported but weak government holds the capital, but the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) — which is associated with a rival government in the country’s east — is trying to seize it.

Abdel Rahman Al-Tamimi, his wife, sister and three children were traveling on Wednesday evening to the capital from their hometown of Aziziya, south of the city, when unknown militants opened fire on their car, Malek Merset, a health spokesman with the Tripoli government told The Associated Press. The family was headed to the capital, where the children, ages 3 to 6, were expected to receive vaccination shots, Merset said.

FASTFACT

Abdel Rahman Al-Tamimi, his wife, sister and three children were traveling on Wednesday evening to the capital from their hometown of Aziziya, south of the city, when unknown militants opened fire on their car.

It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack. However, LNA spokesman Ahmed Al-Mesmari blamed the attack on militias allied with the Tripoli-based internationally recognized government. “This is one of the systematic crimes carried out by militias against civilians,” he wrote on his official Facebook page. “In order to eradicate them and avenge the murdered, the battle shall continue.”

Earlier this week, the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) held the LNA responsible for the shelling of a civilian residence that killed at least three civilians and the wounding of two, including children. The LNA denied the accusation saying that it targeted a military camp that the Tripoli militias used as an “operations room.”

The battle for Tripoli has stalled in recent weeks, with both sides dug in and shelling one another along the city’s southern reaches. The months of combat have killed hundreds of people and displaced thousands.

The fighting threatens to plunge Libya into another bout of violence on the scale of the 2011 conflict that ousted and killed longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi.

Separately, Libya’s coast guard said that it has rescued 82 Europe-bound migrants, including 11 women and eight children off the country’s Mediterranean coast.

The rubber boat carrying migrants from Syria, Bangladesh, Sudan and many other African countries was stopped on Wednesday 64 km to the north of the western town of Zawiya, according to a statement released on Thursday by Libya’s navy.

Libya has emerged as a major transit point for migrants fleeing war and poverty to Europe. In recent years, the EU has partnered with the coast guard and other Libyan forces to try to stop the dangerous sea crossings.

Rights groups, however, have criticized those efforts, saying they’ve left migrants at the mercy of armed groups or confined in squalid detention centers rife with abuses.