UN to focus on prevention of resumed fighting in NE Syria: spokesman

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UNITED NATIONS, Oct. 22 (Xinhua) -- With Tuesday marking the end of the five-day Turkish truce in northeastern Syria, the United Nations' aim is for weapons to remain silent, a UN spokesman said.

"I think what is important for us and the focus for us is that there is no resumption of the fighting," Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, when asked at a regular briefing if the cease-fire announced by Turkey last week should continue.

"Because we can only imagine the toll that it will take on the civilian population which -- we've run out of words -- to say suffered enough sounds empty," the spokesman said.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports that since the Turkish offensive began Oct. 9, to establish what it calls a safe zone along its border with Syria, more than 176,000 people, including nearly 80,000 children have been displaced, Dujarric said.

Each one of those displaced has a story and some of them have had to move three times within the region, Dujarric said. "So, we can only imagine what a resurgence of the fighting would do."

There have been estimates of as many as 180,000-200,000 people having been displaced, according to reports.

The spokesman also said UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Syria Imran Riza has returned to Damascus after visiting the northeast.

Riza is grateful that appeals for humanitarian access were successful and that the teams were able to restore water and avert more serious humanitarian problems for residents in the area, the spokesman said.

Generators are now being used at the Alouk water station to supply safe water to more than 400,000 people in Al-Hassakeh city and surrounding displacement camps, Dujarric said. Critical infrastructure in the northeast and power lines to the water station had been damaged. Enditem

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