50 mn plus people at risk to urban warfares: UN chieftext_fields
United Nations: Over 50 million people are suffering in conflicts in urban areas of Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen etc., and are at great risk of being killed or injured, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Tuesday. He said that civilians are mistaken as militants and fighters, at times, do not care to minimize harm but use explosives in crowded areas killing many, leaving many with disabilities and psychological trauma, Associated Press reported.
Addressing a UN Security Council meeting on protecting civilians in urban conflict zones, chaired by Norway, he said that conflicts in Gaza last year have damaged many schools, health care facilities, and 8,00,000 people were left without pipe water. In May last year, an explosion in Afghanistan killed 90 students, mostly girls, and injured 240, he said.
Guterres further said that risks on civilians are high since militants move along with them and keep battle equipment and facilities near civilian establishments. Sieges and blockades would maroon urban areas and cut supplies sending civilians to hunger. Conflicts displace millions as well as churn out tons of debris, causing harm to human health and the environment. Eighty per cent of houses in Iraq's Mosul were destroyed, and 3,00,000 people were displaced, he said.
Guterres said that the severe cost of human lives in wars are not inevitable but a choice. He asked those fighting to respect international humanitarian law that prohibits attacks on civilians, their establishments and using them as shields.
Meanwhile, International Committee of the Red Cross President Peter Maurer said that there is much evidence suggesting severe harm induced on urban civilians during warfare. Multiple demands for action against it has not made major improvements, he said.
Ghana Vice President Mahamadu Bawumia that despite efforts to make combatants respect the rules of war, many conflicts in Africa involve civilians as human shields.
Ukraine's representative said that the Russian aggression into the country and the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists in eastern the part of the country had caused continuous shelling of residential areas in the country's cities, and local people were held as shields.