1 million children at risk in Idlib, says UN

Internally displaced boys run outside a tent in Idlib province, Syria July 30, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 11 August 2018
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1 million children at risk in Idlib, says UN

  • Human rights activists say tens of thousands of Syrians are held in regime jails across the country
  • More than 350,000 people have been killed since Syria’s civil war started in 2011

BEIRUT: A battle between Syrian regime forces and opposition fighters for the northwestern Idlib province could affect the lives of more than 1 million children, many of whom live in refugee camps, the UN’s children’s agency warned on Friday.
Food, water, and medicine are already in short supply in the largely rural province, which is now home to over 1 million Syrians displaced from their homes by regime offensives in other parts of the country, said UNICEF.
The agency said a battle for Idlib, the last major bastion for Syria’s political and military opposition, would exacerbate an already dire humanitarian situation there and potentially displace 350,000 children.
The regime forces dropped leaflets across the province on Thursday, urging residents to reconcile with its rule. Officials have warned that the regime will take back the province by force if necessary.
There are 2.9 million people living in Idlib and surrounding opposition-held areas, according to UN estimates.
“War cannot be allowed to go to Idlib,” said Jan Egeland, a top UN humanitarian adviser on Syria.
The UN has appealed on Turkey to open its border to refugees, should the regime decides to attack the province, Egeland said.
Separately, a pro-regime daily Al-Watan said Thursday that Syria’s civil registries recorded 68,000 deaths in the war-torn country in 2017.
“Last year, we confirmed 68,000 without specifying the nature of their death and 32,000 this year,” civil registries chief Ahmad Rahal said.
He did not provide any additional details about those who had died, including in what part of Syria they had lost their lives or whether they had been victims of the ongoing conflict.
Thursday’s news come after activists accused authorities of quietly updating civil records to mark detainees in regime jails as “deceased” — some backdated by several years.
Human rights activists say tens of thousands of Syrians are held in regime jails across the country.
Relatives and advocates say they are often tortured, denied a fair trial, and deprived of contact with their families.
But Rahal said employees at the civil record did not have a “missing” box to tick.
“If a document comes through from any government body — whether a hospital or another — to confirm a death, it is confirmed without specifying if they were missing or not.”
The Syrian Network for Human Rights has documented around 400 cases in recent months where civil registry employees have told family members that their detained relative has died.
There could be further such instances which are yet to be documented.
Around 80,000 remain forcibly disappeared by the regime, the rights group says.
More than 350,000 people have been killed since Syria’s civil war started in 2011, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor says.
More than 33,000 were killed last year alone, including more than 10,000 civilians and 7,000 pro-regime fighters, it says.
During the first seven months of this year, at least 14,000 people lost their lives among them more than 5,000 civilians and 7,000 soldiers and loyalists.


Pence: Time has come for European partners to stop undermining Iran sanctions

Updated 28 min 49 sec ago
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Pence: Time has come for European partners to stop undermining Iran sanctions

  • Vice President of the United States Mike Pence: Iran is the leading state sponsor of terrorism in the world
  • Pence also called on the EU to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal

LONDON: The time has come for the United States' European partners to stop undermining sanctions on Iran, the US Vice President Mike Pence said Saturday at the Munich Security Conference. 

Pence added that Iran is the leading state sponsor of terrorism in the world, and called on Europe “to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.” 

The US vice-president also vowed that the United States would "hunt down" Daesh even after pulling its troops out of Syria, where the terrorists are facing the loss of their final scrap of land.
"The United States will continue to work with all our allies to hunt down the remnants of ISIS wherever and whenever they rear their ugly heads," Pence told the Munich Security Conference.

The US withdrew unilaterally last year from the Iran nuclear deal offering Iran incentives in exchange for limiting its nuclear capability and re-imposed tough sanctions, leaving the Europeans, as well as China and Russia, scrambling to try and keep it alive.