March 1, 2018 / 3:49 PM / 4 months ago

U.N. rights body to hold debate on Ghouta on Friday at Britain's request

GENEVA (Reuters) - At the request of Britain, the United Nations Human Rights Council is expected to hold an “urgent debate” on Friday on the deteriorating situation in Syria’s enclave of eastern Ghouta, a spokesman said on Friday.

A man is seen inside a damaged mosque in the besieged town of Douma in eastern Ghouta in Damascus, Syria, March 1, 2018. REUTERS/ Bassam Khabieh

The bureau of the 47-member state Geneva forum agreed to the request, which must be formally approved by the membership on Friday, U.N. spokesman Rolando Gomez said.

Julian Braithwaite, Britain’s ambassador, said in his letter to the Council, which was made public, that his country would seek adoption of a resolution whose text was to be circulated shortly.

Britain’s draft resolution, seen by Reuters, strongly condemns the “sustained denial of humanitarian access, repeated attacks against medical facilities ... any indiscriminate use of heavy weapons and aerial bombardments, including cluster munitions, incendiary weapons and barrel bombs, and the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian authorities against civilians ... including against the people living in eastern Ghouta”.

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It backs the U.N. Security Council resolution adopted last Saturday demanding a ceasefire of at least 30 days to allow aid deliveries and medical evacuations, in line with international law, and demands that Syrian authorities allow unimpeded access.

The draft resolution also calls on U.N. war crimes investigators on Syria, led by Paulo Pinheiro, to conduct an independent inquiry into events in eastern Ghouta by June.

The investigators are scheduled to issue their next report on March 6, to be debated by the Council on March 13.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Tom Miles and Matthew Mpoke Bigg

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