Amid allegations of chemical weapons use in Douma, UN chief calls for civilian protection

UNICEF/2018/Amer Almohibany
Ru’a, 18 months, rides on her grandfather’s motorbike as he drags it across Mesraba in East Ghouta, Syria

9th April 2018

Following a period of relative calm in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on Sunday expressed deep concern over renewed violence in Douma, particularly the alarming allegations that chemical weapons may have been used against civilians.

A statement from UN spokesman Stéphane Dujarric said the Secretary-General called on all parties to cease fighting and restore the calm that had been in place and adhere fully to Security Council resolution 2401, adopted in February and which called for a ceasefire across Syria.

While the UN is not in a position to verify these reports, his spokesperson said “the Secretary-General notes that any use of chemical weapons, if confirmed, is abhorrent, and requires a thorough investigation.”

“He reiterates there is no military solution to the conflict,” Mr. Dujarric added.

Through his spokesperson, Mr. Guterres explained that over the last 36 hours, he has received reports indicating sustained airstrikes and shelling on Douma that have killed civilians, destroyed infrastructure and damaged health facilities.

There has also been shelling on Damascus city, reportedly killing civilians.

“It is critical that civilians be protected,” Mr. Dujuric stressed.

“The Secretary-General calls on all sides to ensure respect for international humanitarian and human rights law, including humanitarian access across Syria to all people in need, as per relevant Security Council resolutions,” he concluded.

Since 11 March, some 25,000 people have reportedly left East Ghouta, seeking shelter in the rural Damascus villages of Dweir, Adra and Herjelleh.