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    UN official expresses grave concern over civilian protection in NE Syria
    update:November 08,2019
    GENEVA, Nov. 8, 2019 -- The safety and protection of hundreds of thousands of civilians affected by the recent escalation of hostilities in northeast Syria remain a grave concern, a senior UN official said here Thursday.
    Najat Rochdi, Senior Humanitarian Adviser to the United Nations Special Envoy for Syria, said in a statement issued here Thursday evening that while the intensity and scope of violence have declined in recent weeks, localized heavy fighting in that area continues.
    Since Oct. 9, she said, the UN has received reports of dozens of civilian deaths as well as a growing number of casualties, often caused by improvised explosive devices.
    "Health facilities are strained as only two out of 16 public hospitals are currently functioning at full capacity in this area," she said.
    Of the more than 200,000 people who fled the fighting in recent weeks, close to 100,000 people have not yet been able to return home and are dispersed across improvised camps and collective shelters.
    "These recent displacements are compounding an already dire situation in which some 710,000 people were already displaced and approximately 1.8 million people remain in need of humanitarian assistance," she added.
    Saying that humanitarian actors have continued to mobilize and help people affected by the hostilities where access is still possible, Rochdi urged all parties to do more to facilitate guaranteed safe, unimpeded and sustained access for the UN and its humanitarian partners.
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