The following statement by UN Secretary‑General António Guterres was issued today:
I am deeply concerned by the desperation shown by the people fleeing in a massive exodus from eastern Ghouta and Afrin.
I profoundly regret that resolution 2401 (2018), concerning the cessation of hostilities throughout Syria, has not been implemented. I urge all parties to the conflict to fully respect international humanitarian and human rights law and guarantee the protection of civilians. Any evacuation of civilians must be safe, voluntary, and in strict accordance with protection standards under international humanitarian and human rights law. It is also imperative that all those displaced are allowed to return voluntarily, in safety and in dignity, to their homes as soon as the situation allows it. I call on the Security Council to stand united and take concrete steps to urgently end this tragedy.
The United Nations and its partners are fully mobilized to bring immediate life‑saving relief to all those in need. I call on all parties to ensure safe and unimpeded humanitarian access in all areas.
The reality on the ground across Syria demands swift action to protect civilians, alleviate suffering, prevent further instability, address the root causes of the conflict and forge, at long last, a durable political solution in line with resolution 2254 (2015).