Ban Ki-moon 'horrified and saddened' by Syria violence

Saturday, December 01, 2012
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon
[FILE: UN Photo/Evan Schneider] 
New York: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he was "horrified and saddened" by the increasingly brutal violence in Syria.

Opening an informal meeting of the General Assembly to hear a briefing by the Joint UN-Arab League Special Representative for Syria, Ban recalled last weekend's airstrike on a village near Damascus which killed more than ten children, and the bombings in Damascus two days ago which claimed dozens of lives. He stressed that "the assaults on human dignity must end, and those responsible must be held to account".

The Special Representative for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi said in his remarks that the military confrontations in Syria continued "unabated", and that at the regional level tensions had been high for some time. Threats to regional peace and stability were "neither abstract nor something in the distant future". 

Brahimi said countries in the region were already bearing the burden of hundreds of thousands of refugees, and "in many instances, tensions are real and mounting within parts of their respective societies between supporters and opponents of the Syrian regime".

He expressed his conviction that in Syria there were only two alternatives to follow. On one hand a political process leading to the creation of a "new Syria" that would end the conflict while "satisfying the aspirations of the Syrian people to dignity, freedom, democracy, social justice and equality". Or, Brahimi said, "Syria becomes a failed state with all the predictable, dire consequences for the people of Syria, for the entire region and for international peace and security".

Saying that the leaders of Syria's neighbours were incapable of putting together a workable peace plan in the foreseeable future, Brahimi concluded that "we are left" with the Security Council to reach a consensus on an implementable roadmap for Syria. He said "it is here, and only here, that a credible, implementable process can be put together".

Convinced that the final communiqué of the Action Group for Syria, which met in June in Geneva, contained the building blocks for a peace process, Brahimi told the General Assembly that for that document to be effective, its substantive parts needed to be translated into a Security Council resolution. He said he recognised the failure of the initial attempt at a resolution, but that did not mean it would be impossible for other attempts to succeed.

Responding to Brahimi's comments, Syria's Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari agreed that the solution to the Syrian problem "must remain political, not a security solution". He envisaged "a consensus for a future Syria, one driven by the will of Syrians themselves led by Syrians themselves without any foreign intervention".

Although the United Nations cannot independently verify the figures, there are estimates of as many as 40,000 people killed in the conflict so far. According to the Secretary-General, potentially four million men, women and children inside Syria will be in need before the New Year, and the total number of refugees is expected to reach 700,000 by early next year. 

Meanwhile the Syria Humanitarian Assistance Response Plan is only 50 per cent funded and the Regional Response Plan is only 38 per cent funded. -UNifeed
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