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UN envoy for Syria calls situation in Idlib “catastrophe”

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — UN special envoy to Syria Geir Pedersen called the humanitarian situation in the conflict-hit Idlib province “a disaster”.

Speaking in a meeting in Moscow with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Pedersen said civilians in Idlib are paying “a very high price” for the fight against terrorism. He stressed the normalization of the situation in Idlib as a key element for the return of refugees to Syria.

“The problem is that more than 50 percent of Syrian citizens have fled their homes. So what we want to achieve now is to create a situation where they will start coming back. Then we need the political process and stabilization of the situation in Idlib. We understand the challenges when it comes to fighting terrorism, but we also always said that what we see now, the price the civilian population pays, is very high,” Pedersen said.

He said 700,000 Syrians have been displaced since April last year and that more than 1,500 civilians have been killed.

The UN envoy praised the formation of the Syrian Constitutional Committee as “an important step forward”.

“The formation of the constitutional committee for the first time was when both sides agreed on a written document. This is the basis for getting together and talking. It was also a way for both sides to get to know each other, ”Pedersen said.

He added that interactions within the format are a way “to build trust between the parties”.

“We understand that this will take time. We are not hurrying for this and hopefully it will have an effect on the wider political process and improve the lives of Syrians living in the country and we encourage the return of refugees, ”said Pedersen.

He also announced his visit to Damascus for next Wednesday, where he will hold talks with the Syrian government.

Lavrov, for his part, focused on the economic and humanitarian aspects of the crisis.

“We appreciate the approach you and your team took to create the conditions for negotiators to create a culture of dialogue, to build trust, this is a very important element of resolution. We do not dramatize the fact that several months after the Constitutional Commission did not achieve excellent results, this was not expected. We will support in any way your efforts aimed at creating the conditions for progress during the next session of the editorial committee, whenever you see fit to launch the event,” Lavrov said.

In September 2018, Turkey and Russia agreed to turn Idlib into a de-escalating area in which acts of aggression are banned.

Since then, over 1,300 civilians have been killed there in attacks by the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad and Russian forces, as the ceasefire continued to be violated.

Over one million Syrians have been displaced near the Turkish border due to intense attacks last year.

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