UN official warns of Daraa catastrophe amid fighting
29 June 2018|16 Shawaal 1439|Anadolu Agency
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Friday called on all sides to the conflict in Syria to end the escalating violence in Daraa Governorate as thousands of civilians remain stranded in the desert.
“Thousands of civilians are reported to have fled their homes towards areas in western Daraa, including Nawa and Jassem, and towards the Jordanian border, many of whom remain stranded in the desert area with no access towards basic food and water needs,” al Hussein said in a statement on Friday.
On 26 June, Jordan had announced its border with Syria would remain closed.
Daraa — which is located at the intersection of Jordan, the occupied Golan region and Lebanon — was declared a de-escalation zone in July 2017, when a trilateral cease-fire agreement was reached, with the U.S., Russia and Jordan as guarantors.
The high commissioner called on all sides to avoid a repetition of the bloodshed and suffering seen earlier this year in Eastern Ghouta.
Noting that thousands have fled their homes, he underlined “the grave risk” that the intensified fighting would see many civilians trapped between Syrian regime forces and their allies on the one hand and armed opposition groups and Daesh on the other.
“In the last few days, civilians at some Government checkpoints in the southern-eastern and western parts of Daraa have only been allowed through to Government-held areas in Daraa City and As Suwayda Governorate for a fee,” he said.
Daesh fighters in control of the Yarmouk Basin area in the western part of Daraa Governorate have not been allowing civilians to leave areas under their control, he warned.
The UN Human Rights Office documented at least 46 civilian deaths in several towns since June 19, when shelling and airstrikes escalated in Daraa.
“I have spoken of the cruel irony of Eastern Ghouta being a de-escalation zone, and how the conduct of this war has been utterly shameful from the outset and a stain on us all. Now another supposed ‘de-escalation’ zone risks becoming the scene of large-scale civilian casualties. This madness must end,” he said.