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UN Chief Warns of Syrian War Spreading Regionally

  • Lisa Schlein

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is warning of spillover effects in countries neighboring Syria if the sectarian violence there does not stop. Addressing journalists in Geneva, the U.N. chief said he is very concerned about the continuing deterioration of the situation in Syria.

Ban is urging world leaders, particularly members of the Security Council and regional leaders, to unite to find a political solution to the bloody Syrian conflict.

Ban said there is little political space left in which to end a war that has claimed tens of thousands of lives and caused nearly 1 million Syrian refugees to flee to neighboring countries.

“I am personally pained and distraught by the way this situation is continuing and deteriorating. We are soon going to enter into a third year; in just about two weeks' time we will be entering the third year of this crisis. How long [do] we have to see the people killed and distressed like this way,” said Ban.

Ban said he strongly welcomes a proposal made by Syria’s opposition leader, Mouaz al-Khatib, to meet with representatives of the Syrian government. The secretary-general said he is particularly encouraged by the willingness of Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem to meet with the opposition.

“This is a very small window of opportunity which we strongly support and encourage them to use them. The opportunity may soon close,” he said.

Ban said it is important to increase U.N. humanitarian assistance to millions of internally displaced people and refugees in the absence of political dialogue or a political resolution to end the war in Syria.

He said U.N. agencies are doing their best to provide essential aid to these people who are in desperate need of help. Unfortunately, he said, the U.N. has limited resources that are outpaced by the large numbers of people fleeing the conflict.

The U.N. chief said he will have in-depth discussions with the Joint Special Representative, Lakhdar Brahimi, on Saturday to discuss the Syrian situation. He said other senior advisers, special representatives and special envoys will participate in these talks.

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