Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Syria says more than 40,000 civilians left eastern Ghouta

United Nations, Mar 16 (EFE).- The Syrian government said Friday before the United Nations that more than 40,000 civilians left eastern Ghouta on Thursday, the main rebel stronghold in the outskirts of Damascus.

The evacuation, according to Syria’s UN ambassador Bashar Ja’afari, was carried out through a security corridor opened by the government and was coordinated by the Red Crescent.

Ja’afari accused the rebels of using civilians as human shields and said that they were still impeding many civilians from using the evacuation corridors.

The ambassador told the UN Security Council, which is analyzing on Friday the situation in Syria, that his country has taken on an “enormous responsibility” to fulfill the Council’s exhortations and to ease civilian suffering.

The UN mediator in the conflict, Staffan de Mistura, said that the world body is not taking part in these evacuations and that he did not have any first-hand information about the matter.

De Mistura said that any civilian evacuation must be done according to international law, ensuring that people can leave voluntarily and go wherever they choose to go.

Speaking by video link from Brussels, De Mistura told the Security Council that the cease-fire negotiated by Russia and the rebel faction that controls Douma, the main city in eastern Ghouta, was “one bit of good news” among the bad.

This cease fire, which has held for several days but has not been expanded to other areas of eastern Ghouta, shows that helping civilians can be done with political will, De Mistura said.