UN Chief calls for protection of civilians in conflict

ISTANBUL: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday called for protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure on all fronts in war-torn Syria.
Civilians are paying the “highest price” in the Syrian war that has lasted eight years, Guterres said at the sixth Istanbul conference on mediation. “There could be no clearer illustration of the importance of political solutions to conflict,” he remarked. The UN chief lauded the first meeting of the Syrian Constitutional Committee held a day earlier in the Swiss city of Geneva as “a landmark, a foundation for progress, and in itself a clear success of mediation.
He voiced hope for the meeting to lead to a political solution to the Syrian war and create the opportunity for all displaced Syrians to return home voluntarily.
“I welcome recent efforts to end the fighting in northeast Syria through dialogue,” he said. “I remain very concerned about the situation in Idlib, and repeat my call for maximum restraint, de-escalation and the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure on all fronts in Syria.” Turkey halted its military offensive against Kurdish militia in northeastern Syria about two weeks ago following respective talks with the United States and Russia.
In his speech at the Istanbul conference, Turkish Foreign Minister MevlutCavusoglu said around 2 billion people, or one third of the world’s population, are living in countries affected by conflicts. “Violent conflicts do not necessarily happen in the form of conventional wars between states,” he stated.–Agencies