UN stresses need to boost civilian protection in armed conflicts

Saturday, January 31, 2015
UN Assistant Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Kyung-wha Kang addressing Security Council
[PHOTO: UNifeed] 
New York: A senior official from the United Nations humanitarian agency told the Security Council that the need for protection has increased dramatically in recent years, mainly as a result of armed conflict.  

Speaking to members of the Security Council, the Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Kyung-wha Kang said "at the start of 2014, humanitarian organizations appealed for aid to help 52 million people in urgent need of assistance and protection."

She noted that by the end of the year, the number had gone up by almost 50 per cent, to 76 million people.   

Kang stressed "the overwhelming majority of these people are civilians affected by conflict.  And the majority of those civilians are women and girls.

She noted that women and children make up some 80 percent of refugees around the world and the majority of internally displaced people.

Kang underscored "another area of serious concern is the widespread use of explosive weapons in populated areas. Figures from 2013 show that when explosive weapons were used in populated areas, 93 per cent of the casualties were civilians."

She also emphasized, "International law is clear: parties to conflict are responsible for meeting the basic needs of persons under their control. Consent for relief operations must never be withheld on arbitrary grounds. If parties are unable or unwilling to provide adequate assistance, they should allow and facilitate rapid, safe and unimpeded access to people in need, including the immediate free passage of medical supplies."

On this regard, Kang added "but the responsibility does not lie solely with the parties themselves. This Council and the international community must take steps to tackle the impunity that continues to fuel many conflicts, as well as the endless flow of weapons and arms. There is nothing that emboldens violators more than knowing that they will not be brought to account for the crimes they have committed."

She concluded noting that when early warnings signs are detected, the international community must be able to act quickly and effectively. -UNifeed
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