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The Security Council calls on the countries of the world to respect the protection of civilians during conflicts

During its discussions in a virtual session, the Security Council called on the countries of the world to protect civilians during conflicts, and stressed the need to respect laws and legal frameworks through which civilians can be protected, calling on countries of the world to implement these necessary frameworks and tools.

According to the United Nations Information Center in New York, the Under-Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock, said that the conflicts during the past year contributed to the increase in the number of forcibly displaced persons, and the number rose to 80 million by the middle of the year, and it was last year. 2020 saw a decrease in the number of internally displaced people who were able to return to their homes.

Civilians are often caught up in conflicts between warring parties, and children, women and the elderly are victims of those conflicts. According to Mark Lowcock, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, who pointed out that there are tools and frameworks, but what states and warring parties must do is implement them.

Mark Lowcock said that the Secretary-General of the United Nations had called last year for a global ceasefire so that the world could focus on ending the pandemic, and despite the wide support that this call had received, deadly conflicts continued in countries such as Syria and Yemen, and new conflicts emerged. In countries like Myanmar and Ethiopia.

"Insecurity, sanctions, counter-terrorism measures and administrative obstacles impeded humanitarian operations," Mark Lowcock said. "The COVID-19 pandemic added new access problems with suspension of flights, border closures, quarantine measures and closures."

Lowcock reviewed some of the aspects that focused on the report of the Secretary-General, António Guterres, on the protection of civilians, which was issued last week. He pointed out that the first aspect is the conflict's relationship with hunger. "The threat of famine loomed again last year, including in northeast Nigeria, parts of the Sahel, southern Sudan and Yemen. At the end of 2020, nearly 100 million people faced crisis or worse levels of acute food insecurity as a result of the conflict," he says. Up from 77 million in the previous year. "

Lowcock explained that the conflict is causing acute hunger, both direct and indirect, as civilians leave their agricultural lands, pastures and fishing grounds. The parties to the conflict destroy food stocks, thus raising prices and reducing the purchasing power of families.

He spoke, "Lowcock" about the use of explosive weapons in towns and cities, stressing that nearly 90 per cent of people who were killed when using explosive weapons in civilian areas, are civilians. "We saw large numbers of civilian casualties caused by the use of these weapons last year, including Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and Yemen."

"In Iraq, air strikes destroyed agricultural lands and caused fires, including in areas rich in biodiversity and endangered species," Lowcock said. In northern Syria, the deterioration of the infrastructure also led to oil spills and pollution of water needed for agriculture, health and basic hygiene.

With regard to medical personnel, ambulances and medical facilities, the UN official said: "Doctors and nurses are being threatened, kidnapped and killed. Facilities and transportation, including ambulances, are damaged and destroyed. The sick and wounded are denied access to care."

Lowcock pointed out that attacks on health care last year in 22 countries affected by conflict resulted in the death of 182 health workers. The highest numbers were recorded in Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia and Syria.

Mark Lowcock stressed the important role of accountability. "If war crimes go unpunished, things will get worse," he said. "Accountability for violations must be systematic and global." He stressed that the laws and tools necessary to protect civilians from harm in armed conflict exist, "it is time for all states and parties to the conflict to implement them."

"Mark Lowcock" pointed to the need to change the behavior and tactics of the belligerents to comply with international humanitarian laws, adding: "I have seen a significant deterioration in this field, whether by states or non-state armed groups, during nearly four years of my work as an emergency relief coordinator."

The UN official called for focusing on confronting the way the belligerents in the conflict behave, and said if the international community did not do so, "we will see the number of humanitarian needs continue to increase, as happened during the past four years."

In his turn, Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, emphasized in his hypothetical briefing that during conflicts we witness vicious cycles of violence in which political, ideological, ethnic, religious and criminal motives intersect, and violations of basic standards lead to enormous protection challenges.

"The result is that individuals and communities face increasing risks and obstacles. Those at the bottom of the line - women, children, people with disabilities, minorities and the elderly - are the most affected and increasingly marginalized," he said.

The International Committee of the Red Cross recently issued a comprehensive report on the systemic effects of COVID-19 on societies that bear the double burden of war and disease.

"We cannot allow hospitals to be bombed with impunity, for the sick and wounded die unnecessarily; for diseases to spread unchecked; for life-saving vaccines to be reserved for the privileged," added Maurer. The president of the International Committee of the Red Cross pointed to the need to change the behavior of warring parties in conflicts, to provide better protection for civilians and more substantive and broader support for humanitarian action.

For her part, Dr. “Orkhala Ashraf Nemat,” an activist and researcher at the Research and Evaluation Unit in Afghanistan, delivered a video-delivered speech to the Security Council, in which she said that long years of conflict and violence have turned Afghanistan into one of the worst countries for its ordinary residents, civilians and health workers. This is because parties to conflict often do not comply with the Geneva Convention or any other global compact that obliges them to ensure the protection of civilians and place it as a priority.

"Civilians are the target of Taliban attacks and are used as human shields by the Taliban and other armed groups. Unfortunately, in some cases, government forces bomb civilian targets and target civilians," the Afghan researcher said.

The Afghan activist indicated that the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) documented in the first quarter of this year 1,783 civilian deaths: 573 were killed, 1,210 were injured, and this is an increase of 29% compared to the same period in 2020.

"What is particularly concerning is an increase of 37% in the number of women killed or injured and 23% in the number of children killed or injured, compared to the same period last year," she said.

The Afghan activist added that since the end of February and the beginning of March this year, seven women have been targeted in eastern Afghanistan: Three female journalists were shot dead and a doctor's laboratory was blown up, followed by the assassination of three young women providing vaccinations in the city of Jalalabad. "It is time for our international allies to support us in achieving a lasting peace, because this war has been sponsored internationally and has been supported. Peace also needs strong and practical steps through joint efforts and cooperation," she stressed.