ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – A United Nations official on Sunday highlighted the “disturbing reports” of civilian deaths and injuries during Turkey’s ongoing military operation on the Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava) city of Afrin.
UN regional humanitarian coordinator Panos Moumtzis expressed concern over the Turkish army’s offensive against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Afrin which is now in its 42nd day.
Moumtzis said civilians are unable to escape the Kurdish region to safer areas due to the ongoing shelling and bombardment.
“We continue to receive disturbing reports out of Afrin of civilian deaths and injuries, and restrictions on civilian movement as a result of ongoing military operations,” he said in a statement.
The official’s concerns come a week after the UN Security Council voted for a 30-day ceasefire across Syria to allow civilians access to humanitarian aid. However, Turkey has said the resolution does not apply to its incursion in Afrin.
“Instead of a much-needed reprieve, we continue to see more fighting, more death, and more disturbing reports of hunger and hospitals being bombed,” Moumtzis stated. “This collective punishment of civilians is simply unacceptable.”
According to the UN official, since Turkey’s military operation in Afrin began on Jan. 20, an estimated 5,000 people have fled the region, while tens of thousands remain displaced within the Kurdish enclave.
Moumtzis called on all parties involved in the conflict to adhere to the UN Security Council ceasefire, stressing that humanitarian relief cannot be delivered to civilians while clashes continue.
“The UN and humanitarian partners stand ready to assist the 13.1 million people in need inside Syria, but cannot do it alone,” he stressed. “We certainly cannot do this while the fighting continues.”