UN Chief urges for civilian protection in Syria after alleged chemical weapons attack

UN Chief urges for civilian protection in Syria after alleged chemical weapons attack

UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Sunday expressed concern [press release] over renewed violence and reports of chemical weapons attacks against civilians in Douma, Syria.

According to Guterres, he has received reports of airstrikes and shelling, violence resulting in civilians’ death, destruction of property, and allegations of chemical weapons attack against civilians. He referred to the particular use of chemical weapons as “abhorrent.”

Since early March about 25,000 people have fled [UN news] Eastern Ghouta to escape the violence.

Guterres is urging an end to the violence. He referred to the Security Council Resolution 2401 [text, PDF], which was adopted in February ordering a ceasefire for at least 30 consecutive days in Syria to end the ongoing violence resulting in numerous deaths and to provide assistance to civilians.

Guterres stressed the importance of protecting civilians, reiterating that all parties must adhere to the resolutions that were put in place to ensure peace in the area. Accordingly, the UN Security Council is scheduled to hold an emergency meeting [press release] Monday regarding the alleged use of chemical weapons. According to US Ambassador Nikki Haley,

[T]here are reports of what appears to be a chemical weapons attack in Syria. Unfortunately, chemical weapons use to injure and kill innocent Syrian civilians has become all too common. The Security Council has to come together and demand immediate access for first responders, support an independent investigation into what happened, and hold accountable those responsible for this atrocious act.

The seven-year war in Syria [JURIST backgrounder] has created a “colossal human tragedy” [JURIST report], according to UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi. Thousands are dead and millions more are homeless and seeking asylum as a result of the war. In March, there were reports of Russian airstrikes [JURIST report] that resulted in more than 80 civilians deaths. In April, after continued violence in Syria, US President Donald Trump [official profile] announced his intentions to alleviate the issues [JURIST co-op] in Syria.

It is likely an independent investigation into the use of chemical weapons will be ordered.