Monday, May 21, 2012

More than 9,000 Dead in Syria

The head of UN peacekeeping, Hervé Ladsous, today met with Syrian government and opposition group representative in the city of Homs, during a visit to assess progress made on the ground by UN military observers.  “During the meeting, both sides expressed their commitment to the Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan’s six-point peace plan and noted the diminishing of violence in the city since the arrival of the military observers,” a spokesperson for the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) said. 

A protest movement – similar to those across the Middle East and North Africa – has claimed over 9,000 lives in Syria, mostly civilians, and displaced tens of thousands since it began in March 2011. 

Mr. Ladsous, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, arrived in Syria late last week for a four-day visit to meet with UNSMIS observers and assess developments. In Damascus, the peacekeeping chief met with both government and opposition groups to enhance facilitation and cooperation for the second phase of the observer Mission; the safety and security of the observers was also discussed.  While on the ground, Mr. Ladsous noted the record time in which the UNSMIS observers deployed, and emphasized that the end of the violence will only happen if Syrians and all parties, internal and external, choose the path of dialogue.

The violence in the Middle Eastern country led to the Security Council authorizing the establishment of UNSMIS, with up to 300 unarmed military observers, for an initial period of 90 days. Spread out in various locations, the observers are tasked with monitoring the cessation of violence and supporting the full implementation of the six-point plan put forward by the Joint Special Envoy of the UN and the League of Arab States, Kofi Annan.

Mr. Annan’s six-point plan calls for an end to violence, access for humanitarian agencies to provide relief to those in need, the release of detainees, the start of inclusive political dialogue that takes into account the aspirations of the Syrian people, and unrestricted access to the country for the international media.

Meanwhile, the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Derek Plumbly, today voiced concern over recent violent incidents which have led to loss of life in Lebanon.  “It is important that there be no further repetition of such violence and that the incidents that have occurred be fully and thoroughly investigated,” Mr. Plumbly said in a statement, in which he also expressed his condolences to the families of those killed.  According to media reports, violence in Lebanon has been related to developments in Syria, with clashes between sympathizers and opponents of the different sides there.  

(adapted from a UN Press Release)

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