Friday, February 10, 2012
The United Nations General Assembly will meet on Monday to discuss the situation in Syria, where the death toll keeps rising as Government forces continue their bloody crackdown against a pro-democracy uprising.
Navi Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, will brief Member States on the latest developments after a request from General Assembly President Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser.
The 193-member Assembly will also discuss the report of the UN Human Rights Council from December last year in which that body strongly condemned abuses by Syrian authorities carried out as part of the crackdown.
More than 5,000 people have been killed since the uprising – part of the broader Arab Spring movement across North Africa and the Middle East – began in March last year, and senior UN officials have urged the Government to stop the violence and hold dialogue with opposition groups.
Earlier this week Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the UN is considering sending a joint observer mission with the League of Arab States in a bid to resolve the crisis engulfing the country. He also voiced regret that the Security Council was unable to agree on collective action on the issue after Russia and China vetoed a draft resolution endorsing Arab League efforts to end the crisis. “The failure to do so is disastrous for the people of Syria,” he said. “It has encouraged the Syrian Government to step up its war on its own people. Thousands have been killed in cold blood… I fear that the appalling brutality we are witnessing in [the city of] Homs, with heavy weapons firing into civilian neighbourhoods, is a grim harbinger of worse to come.”
Rupert Colville, a spokesperson for Ms. Pillay, told reporters today in Geneva that international law requires that during any armed conflict the wounded and sick must be treated humanely, and the neutrality of medical facilities must be respected.
Fadéla Chaib, a spokesperson for the UN World Health Organization (WHO), also expressed concern about press reports indicating that health-care facilities were not being treated as neutral premises. Ms. Chaib said there has been a massive increase in weapons-related injuries in recent days, and medical staff have also outlined disruptions to the supply of medicines and pharmaceuticals.
(UN Press Release)