EYEAFRICA TV: New York, USA: The United Nations -UN- Secretary-General, António Guterres Thursday told the Security Council that “civilians continue to bear the brunt of conflict around the world” with the suffering pushed to unbearable limits when civilians are deprived of food and healthcare in sieges that can last months, or in some cases, years.
Addressing an open debate on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, Guterres said in Syria, relentless attacks and sieges with no signs of abating” have been documented. In South Sudan, he said, “horrendous abuses continue as parties to the conflict target civilians including aid workers,” while in Yemen, civilians are trapped and targeted by all sides.
Mr Guterres said attacks on medical care, including hospitals, doctors, ambulances, and on the wounded and the sick took place in at least 20 countries affected by conflict in 2016.
In most of these places, he said “fragile medical systems were already at the breaking point as staff struggle to treat huge numbers of people. In most cases, no one was held accountable.”
He appealed to parties to take concrete steps to limit harm on civilians in their military operations, as they are obliged to do under international law.
Mr. Guterres also called on member states to use their influence to promote respect for international law and ensure accountability for violations. “I urge those engaged in arm transfers to show greater responsibility and consider the potential consequences of those sales, for human lives and for our common security. I also call on all to support the international accountability mechanisms that complement national efforts, including the International Criminal Court.”
He said there are three clear ways to improve the protection of civilians in armed conflict. First, “we must ensure greater respect for international humanitarian and human rights law. Second, we must step up the protection of humanitarian and medical missions by implementing my predecessor’s recommendations on resolution 2286, which was adopted by the Council last year. And third, we must do more to prevent forced displacement and find durable solutions for refugees and internally displaced people.”