Thursday, April 5, 2012

Violence Continues in Syria

Secretary-General Ki-moon today noted with concern that bloodshed continues in Syria despite the Government’s acceptance of proposals by the Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations-League of Arab States, Kofi Annan, to end the violence, and urged the international community to deepen support for the envoy’s initiative.  

“Despite the Syrian Government’s acceptance of the Joint Special Envoy’s plan of initial proposals to resolve the crisis, the violence and assaults in civilian areas have not stopped,” Mr. Ban told an informal meeting of the General Assembly on the situation in Syria, which also heard from Mr. Annan, via a video-conference link from Geneva. “The situation on the ground continues to deteriorate.”  

Mr. Annan’s six-point proposal, which was submitted during his visit to Damascus last month, seeks to stop the violence and the killing, give access to humanitarian agencies, release detainees, and kick-start an inclusive political dialogue. The Syrian Government has informed the Envoy that it will complete the withdrawal of troops and heavy weapons from population centres by 10 April.  

“It is the responsibility now of the Syrian authorities to deliver on what they have promised, and to implement, fully and unconditionally, all the commitments they have given to Joint Special Envoy Annan,” Mr. Ban told Assembly members, adding the he counted on the Assmebly’s continued support for the Envoy’s efforts.  He appealed to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, his Government and all concerned, to show “vision and leadership,” and also urged the opposition to be ready to cease all violence, as outlined in Mr. Annan’s plan.  

“Beyond a cessation of violence, it is critical to move fast on the political process. A pause in hostilities will not hold without a political horizon,” Mr. Ban said. “In this regard, the Syrian opposition is taking steps to present itself as a coherent body. This will be important for dialogue. I hope we can launch an inclusive and genuine process very soon.”  

The UN estimates that more than 8,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed and tens of thousands displaced since the uprising – part of the broader Arab Spring movement across North Africa and the Middle East – began in March last year.   

In his remarks to the General Assembly, Mr. Ban said that humanitarian needs stemming from the situation continue to rise dramatically, with over a million Syrians needing relief inside the country and tens of thousands seeking refuge in neighbouring countries.  

The UN, he said, has started to mobilize assistance and has delivered help to 2,000 families in need inside Syria.  “We need to do more and we will work with all stakeholders to ensure that the Syrian people are not left alone at this critical time,” said the Secretary-General. “As relief efforts expand, it will remain essential to preserve the independence and impartiality of humanitarian assistance.”  

(UN Press Release)

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