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Press briefing notes on Homs and Egypt

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Rupert Colville
Location: Geneva
Date: 5 July 2013
Subjects: 1) Homs
2) Egypt

1) Homs

We are extremely concerned about the human rights and humanitarian impact of a major offensive launched on June 28 by the Syrian government forces and affiliated militias to retake several opposition-controlled districts in Homs.

According to information just received, the Al-Khaldiya neighbourhood has been experiencing heavy shelling since the early hours of this morning. These attacks are now affecting all of old Homs district.

Although the total number of casualties remains unknown, the number of civilians currently trapped due the heavy fighting in and around Homs is believed to be between 2,500 and 4,000 people. Shortages of food, water, medicine, electricity and fuel in besieged areas are severely affecting civilians, including women and children.

The siege began 13 months ago but has escalated since June 28. Out of 16 residential districts affected by the ongoing siege, shelling and ground attacks in Homs and in the surrounding area, Al-Khaldiya and Baba Houd districts appear to be the worst hit. Recent reports suggest that armed opposition groups are operating inside those residential areas, thereby increasing the risk for civilians.
We call upon all parties to respect their obligations under international law, avoid civilian casualties and allow trapped civilians to leave without fear of persecution or violence. We also call for unrestricted and immediate humanitarian access to all conflict-affected populations in besieged areas.

2) Egypt

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay is today urging all parties in Egypt to make a concerted effort to restore calm by ensuring that the human rights of all citizens are respected and protected during this delicate period, and are subsequently entrenched in sound laws and institutions.

She expresses her support for all Egyptians striving for a state that would safeguard their human rights and freedoms, and guarantee respect for rule of law, noting that the massive protests and demonstrations over the past few weeks were a very clear indication that Egyptians want their fundamental rights to be honoured.

To read her full statement, please go to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/Media.aspx?IsMediaPage=true&LangID=E

ENDS

For further information and media requests, please contact Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 9767 or + 41 79 506 1088 / rcolville@ohchr.org); Cécile Pouilly (+41 22 917 9310 or +41 79 618 3430 / cpouilly@ohchr.org) or Liz Throssell (+ 41 22 917 9434 / ethrossell@ohchr.org)

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