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Updated On: Monday, 23 July 2018
Development Issues

UN Reaction to Syrian Chemical Attack

Content by: South-South News

11 April 2018, New York, USA | South-South News — Following the reports of a new alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta over the weekend the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on April 10 repeated his call for the UN Security Council to “find unity” on the issue and ensure accountability.

Guterres’s written statement was read to reporters in Geneva by the Director of the Information Service at the UN in Geneva, Alessandra Vellucci, who read: “Any confirmed use of chemical weapons, by any party to the conflict and under any circumstances, is abhorrent and a clear violation of international law. The seriousness of the recent allegations requires a thorough investigation using impartial, independent and professional expertise. In that regard, I reaffirm my full support for the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and its Fact-Finding Mission in undertaking the required investigation into these allegations.”

The UN Secretary-General’s communiqué comes after the UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, told the Security Council on Monday that at least 49 people had been reportedly killed, and hundreds injured, in an alleged chemical attack in Douma on Saturday evening.

In his statement, Guterres condemned the incident as “abhorrent” – echoing an earlier message in March in which he wrote of “persistent allegations” of the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

In both written declarations, the UN chief underlined his support for the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) - the body which investigates allegations of such attacks.

Guterres’ latest statement also underlined his call for the Security Council to “redouble its efforts” to uphold norms against chemical weapons and agree on a mechanism that would ensure accountability.

Asked by journalists in Geneva about the alleged chemical attack, both the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said they were not in a position to verify the reports.

WHO spokesperson Fadela Chaib said the organization had received “unverified information” of Syrian men, women and children suffering from respiratory failure after alleged chemical exposure in Douma, site of the alleged attack at the weekend.

OCHA spokesperson Jens Laerke explained that aid workers were located in eight shelters for those displaced from Eastern Ghouta, but not in Douma itself.

Addressing humanitarian needs in Syria where more than seven years of war has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and caused destruction on a massive scale, UN organizations said that ongoing violence in several parts of the country had caused the mass displacement of civilians to spiral.

UN Refugee Agency UNHCR reported that tens of thousands of people remain trapped in Douma and nearly a quarter of a million people need aid urgently in the wider Eastern Ghouta area.

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