A senior U.N. official is calling for an immediate end to the fighting in Daraa and Quneitra in southwest Syria as tens of thousands of civilians flee for their lives.
Senior Advisor of the U.N.’s Special Envoy for Syria Jan Egeland appeared to be mainly appealing to Russia, the United States and Jordan to use their influence to put an end to the fighting, which erupted 10 days ago. Last year, the three countries helped persuade the Syrian government and rebels to create a so-called de-escalation zone in Daraa and Quneitra provinces along the Jordanian border.
As a consequence, Egeland says the zone has been a rare area of sanity and protection for hundreds of thousands of civilians in a country that has been at war for seven years.
“There is no protection. There is only war. We cannot have the war coming to an area with 750,000 civilians. Those are now increasingly fleeing for their lives. Many are already internally displaced,” he said.
To add to the misery of the beleaguered population, Egeland says the cross-border humanitarian operation from Jordan into southwest Syria, which has proven to be an extremely effective lifeline, was discontinued Tuesday because of the fighting.
“Humanitarian actors have prepositioned supplies inside Daraa and inside Quneitra. However, movement is very difficult and humanitarian operations are paralyzed into many areas,” he said.
Egeland says as soon as the U.N. receives assurances of safety from the armed groups, the convoys will start rolling again.
The U.N. says some 50,000 people have been displaced by the fighting, though Egeland notes local authorities put that figure at about 70,000. He says there are no estimates on the number of dead and injured, although it’s likely to be high because civilians are exposed to the fighting. He says five medical facilities have been hit and are out of commission.