Protection of civilians in armed conflict: war continues to devastate lives around the world

Protection of civilians in armed conflict: war continues to devastate lives around the world

Far from diminishing their activity, armed conflicts continue to devastate the lives of civilians throughout the world and especially in cities. Only last year, 94% of the victims in populated areas were citizens, the UN Secretary General said on Tuesday at the Security Council alluding to his latest report on protection of civilians.

As indicated by this study, António Guterres estimated the number of people forced to leave their homes due to conflicts, violent acts or violations of human rights and persecution at 100 million.

A persistent violence that the head of the UN extended to other spheres such as that of health workers and schools, who saw their facilities devastated and their personnel wounded, kidnapped or injured, or that of humanitarian workers.

war causes famine

Guterres then described as a “scandal” that over 117 million people suffered from famine last year, mainly due to war and insecurity, and recalled that damage to critical infrastructure hinders food production, blocks its distribution and deprive the population of drinking water.

“Syria now has 40% less drinking water than at the start of the conflict. Combatants destroy crops and steal cattle; explosives contaminate fertile land; the markets cannot function and prices skyrocket, ”she listed.

A rise in costs contributed to by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, causing the cost of food, energy and fertilizer to rise worldwide, “with terrible effects for the poorest”.

The world does not respect international humanitarian law

After detailing a series of measures to mitigate the impact of conflicts on the civilian population -protection of minors, better access for humanitarian workers, response plan to food insecurity or the Black Sea Grain Initiative- he declared that “the The stark reality is that the world is not fulfilling its commitments to protect civilians” established in international humanitarian law.

“We must never lose sight of the meaning and purpose of International Humanitarian Law: it represents the difference between life and death, between moderation and anarchy. (…) But an ignored right is an undermined right, ”he stressed.

Peace is the best form of protection

He General secretary called on the Member States to increase efforts to prevent conflicts, in the protection of civilians, in the maintenance of peace and in the search for political solutions to war.

By way of guidance, he highlighted the upcoming publication of a policy report entitled “A New Peace Program”, which will serve as preparation for the Summit of the Future to be held in September 2024.

“It will offer Member States a holistic approach, adapted to the times, to address peace and security in a changing world,” he explained.

He also recalled the responsibility of States when it comes to investigating alleged war crimes, prosecuting their perpetrators and improving the capacity of other States to do so.

Finally, he called for doing everything possible to “break the deadly cycle of armed conflict and hunger” by strengthening the economies of vulnerable countries, honoring the commitments made to countries affected by the climate crisis and increasing contributions to operations. humanitarian organizations, “which -shamefully- are only 15% financed”, he highlighted.

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Written by Editor TLN

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