News / Middle East

    Kofi Annan to Mediate Syria Crisis; Urges Assad to Engage

    Margaret Besheer

    Former U.N. Chief Kofi Annan urged Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to engage with him as he takes up his new post as the United Nations-Arab League Special Envoy on Syria.

    Annan said Wednesday that he expects to go to Syria soon and his first priority is to stop the violence which has killed more than 7,500 people over the past year.

    Annan met with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for about an hour on Wednesday to discuss his mission. Afterwards the two diplomats spoke with reporters.

    Annan acknowledged that he is taking on a “very difficult assignment”, one that is a “tough challenge” and he laid out his priorities.

    “The first thing we need to do, as the Secretary-General has said, is to do everything we can to stop the violence and the killing, to facilitate humanitarian access and ensure that the needy are looked after, and work with the Syrians in coming up with a peaceful solution which respects their aspirations and eventually stabilizes the country,” Annan said.

    Annan, who was U.N. Secretary-General from 1997 to 2006 and is a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, urged President Assad to engage with him and called on the international community to unite around his mediation efforts.

    “So, one, single, unitary process. And it is when the international community speaks with one voice that that voice is powerful, and we should pool our efforts and work together. I am determined to work with everybody, and I am going to consult broadly, with all actors, and I think I am well on the way in that direction,” Annan said.

    U.N. Chief Ban Ki-moon warned that the situation in Syria has grown “increasingly desperate.” He said he has asked his predecessor to go next to Cairo to meet with Arab League Secretary-General Nabil ElAraby, then to see other leaders in the region, and on to Damascus as soon as possible.

    Ban urged the Syrian authorities to extend their full cooperation to the Annan mission, and he expressed his disappointment that his humanitarian chief, Valerie Amos, has not yet been allowed into Syria despite promises from the government that she would be welcome.

    “I take this opportunity to remind the Syrian authorities of their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law, and I call on them once again to work toward a peaceful, democratic solution for the Syrian people,” Ban said.

    Earlier Wednesday, Valerie Amos expressed her “deep disappointment” that Syrian authorities are blocking her request to enter the country. The Secretary-General wants her to visit to assess the situation in the country, particularly in Homs, which has been enduring a government military offensive and rising death toll for weeks.

    Earlier efforts in the U.N. Security Council to adopt a resolution supporting an Arab League plan to end the crisis failed when Russia and China vetoed the measure, saying it called for regime change.

    The United Nations top political officer said this week that the death toll from the nearly year-long government crackdown on pro-democracy protesters is now “certainly well over 7,500” people, including women and children.

    You May Like

    California Republicans Mull Choices in Presidential Race

    Ted Cruz tells state's Republican Convention delegates campaign will be 'battle on the ground, district by district by district,' ahead of June 7 primary

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, many Kurds are trying to escape turmoil by focusing on success of football team Amedspor

    South African Company Designs Unique Solar Cooker

    Two-man team of solar power technologists introduces Sol4, hot plate that heats up so fast it’s like cooking with gas or electricity

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora