Baku, January 26, AZERTAC
Opening a Security Council debate on how to protect civilians caught up in urban conflict, the UN Secretary-General on Tuesday said that more than 50 million people are currently impacted by fighting inside towns and cities.
In fact, António Guterres added, when explosive weapons are used in populated areas, around 90 per cent of those killed and injured, play no part in instigating the violence.
“Civilians can suffer devastating harm both in the immediate aftermath, and in the long-term”, the UN chief explained.
According to him, many victims face lifelong disabilities and grave psychological trauma. Water, electricity and sanitation infrastructure are often damaged, and healthcare services are severely disrupted.
The Secretary-General chief then mentioned some examples.
Pointing to scores of schools and healthcare facilities damaged during fighting between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza last year, he remembered that nearly 800,000 people were left without access to piped water.
In Afghanistan, an explosive attack outside a Kabul high school last May, killed 90 students, mainly girls, and left another 240 people injured.
“Beyond the immediate pain and suffering, the indirect effects of damage to schools range from disruption to education, to increased likelihood of early marriage and recruitment into armed groups”, Mr. Guterres said.
According to a 2020 study conducted in Yemen, the use of heavy explosive weapons in populated areas disrupted every resource and system in the country.
“From Afghanistan to Libya, Syria, Yemen and beyond, the risk of harm to civilians, rises when combatants move among them and put military facilities and equipment near civilian infrastructure”, the UN chief said.
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