UN chief Antonio Guterres has expressed strong concern over continued violence and hostilities in Syria, saying the country is "bleeding inside and out", and called for full implementation of a UN resolution for a ceasefire in the nation where the conflict is entering its eighth year.
Though conflicts in some areas are diminishing in intensity, violence continues in Eastern Ghouta and beyond -- including in Afrin, parts of Idlib and in Damascus and its suburbs, he said.
"I am deeply saddened by the immense loss and cascading suffering of the Syrian people. And I am deeply disappointed by all those who have, year after year, by action or inaction, by design or indifference, allowed this to happen...Syria is bleeding inside and out," the UN chief told the 15-member UN Security Council.
He was briefing the Council yesterday on the implementation of Security Council resolution 2401 unanimously adopted last month.
Along with a 30-day ceasefire, the resolution calls for delivering aid, evacuating the sick and wounded, lifting sieges, accelerating humanitarian mine action, and protecting civilians and infrastructure.
According to UN data, the conflict has produced more than 5.6 million Syrian refugees and 6.1 million internally displaced people, with more than 13 million people inside the country requiring humanitarian assistance, including nearly six million children.
"Let me highlight just one stark fact on this grimmest of anniversaries: In 2017, more children were killed in Syria than during any other year since the war began," he said.
Guterres said none of the Council's directives have been implemented: the provision of humanitarian aid and services has not been safe, unimpeded or sustained; no sieges have been lifted and not one critically sick or wounded person has yet been evacuated.
"I appeal to all parties for the full implementation of resolution 2401 throughout the whole of Syrian territory. The United Nations is ready to assist in any efforts to make that happen," the UN chief said, calling on all states "with influence" to exercise it in support of the efforts of the United Nations and the implementation of the resolution.
Guterres added that all parties involved should be reminded that even efforts to combat terrorist groups identified by the Council do not supersede these humanitarian obligations.
"On Thursday, this conflict will enter its eighth year. I refuse to lose my hope to see Syria rising from the ashes," he said.
Guterres also condemned reports of new chemical weapons attack in Syria's Eastern Ghouta over the weekend and repeated his call for the Security Council to "find unity" on the issue and ensure accountability.
In a statement, he expressed his outrage at reports that civilians in the last opposition-held area of Rural Damascus have continued to be targeted by toxic agents.
The Secretary-General's call comes after Mistura told the Security Council late Monday that at least 49 people had been killed, and hundreds were injured in an alleged chemical attack in Douma on Saturday evening.
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