UN Security Council calls for Syria ceasefire to be implemented

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley speaks to Stephen Hickey, Political Co-ordinator at the UK Mission to the UN and Swedish Ambassador to the UN Olof Skoog before the UN Security Council vote for cease-fire to Syrian bombing in eastern Ghouta, at the United Nations headquarters in New York. (File Photo: Reuters)
Updated 07 March 2018
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UN Security Council calls for Syria ceasefire to be implemented

UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations Security Council on Wednesday called for a ceasefire to be implemented across Syria and expressed concern about the country's humanitarian situation, said Netherlands U.N. Ambassador Karel van Oosterom, council president for March.
"The cessation of hostilities was discussed. The Security Council reiterated its call for implementation of resolution 2401," van Oosterom said. The 15-member council unanimously demanded a 30-day truce across Syria on Feb. 24.
He was speaking after the Security Council was briefed behind closed doors on the situation in Syria at the request of Britain and France.
The meeting was called to press Syria and Russia to comply with a ceasefire endorsed eleven days ago to allow humanitarian aid and medical evacuations from Eastern Ghouta.
France and Britain requested the urgent meeting as the Syrian government sent militias as reinforcements to the rebel enclave and heavy airstrikes battered key towns.
Swedish Ambassador Olof Skoog, who negotiated the ceasefire resolution along with Kuwait, said implementation of the truce remains "totally and completely inadequate."
"So far we see minimal signs only from the Syrian authorities to implement the resolution and we are very, very disappointed about that," Skoog told reporters ahead of the meeting.
Backed by Russia, the council unanimously adopted on February 24 a resolution demanding the 30-day cessation of hostilities to allow deliveries of humanitarian aid and evacuations of the sick and wounded.
A first aid convoy reached Eastern Ghouta on Monday but the delivery was cut short as air strikes pounded the enclave. Aid workers offloaded 32 of the 46 trucks.
Nearly half of the food carried on the convoy which had been approved by the Syrian government could not be delivered and part of the medical and health supplies were removed from trucks by Syrian authorities, the UN said.
The Swedish ambassador said the council would push for another aid convoy to be allowed to return to Eastern Ghouta on Thursday to deliver food and medicine.
Skoog said the safety of the aid workers must be guaranteed.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 800 civilians -- including at least 177 children -- have been killed since Russia-backed Syrian forces launched an assault on the besieged enclave outside Damascus on February 18.


UN chief warns of risk of war in Gaza

Updated 54 min 20 sec ago
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UN chief warns of risk of war in Gaza

UNITED NATIONS: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is warning that Gaza is close to the brink of war and expressed shock over the number of Palestinians killed and wounded by Israeli live fire during protests, in a report obtained by AFP on Monday.
Guterres told the Security Council that he “unequivocally condemns the steps by all parties that have brought us to this dangerous and fragile place” in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The report was sent to the council last week ahead of a meeting on Tuesday on the Israeli-Palestinian crisis.
The violence in Gaza marks the most serious escalation between Israel and Hamas since the 2014 war.
“It is and should be a warning to all how close to the brink of war the situation is,” said Guterres.
“I am shocked by the number of deaths and injuries of Palestinians resulting from the use of live fire by Israel Defense Forces” since protests began on March 30, he said.
At least 132 Palestinian have been killed. The Red Cross says more than 13,000 have been wounded including 1,400 who suffered multiple gunshot wounds, many in the legs.
Israel has a responsibility to “exercise maximum restraint” and protect civilians in line with international humanitarian law, the UN chief wrote.
“The killing of children, as well as of clearly identified journalists and medical staffers by security forces during a demonstration are particularly unacceptable,” he added.
Two Palestinian journalists were killed while covering the protests in April while a 21-year-old medic was shot dead in early June.
Guterres renewed his call for an independent investigation of the shooting deaths in Gaza. Israel has rejected the appeal and argues that the use of force is justified to defend its borders.
The UN chief criticized Hamas and other militant groups for attempting to put explosives near the fence and for shooting rockets at Israel on May 29 and 30.
He singled out “senior Israeli government officials” for asserting that all Palestinians were affiliated with Hamas, signalling a “permissive Israeli policy toward the use of live fire against protesters.”
Israel’s settlement activities “continue unabated,” Guterres added, citing a May 30 decision by Israel to approve 3,500 housing units in the West Bank — the largest batch of new housing since June 2017.
The United Nations considers the expansion of settlements on land earmarked for a future Palestinian state to be illegal. Guterres said the construction must “cease immediately and completely.”