News / Middle East

UN to Temporarily Relocate Some Staff from Syria

Free Syrian Army fighters drop shell into a firing tube, in Damascus countryside, Syria, Mar 24,2013 (Ugarit News via AP video)Free Syrian Army fighters drop shell into a firing tube, in Damascus countryside, Syria, Mar 24,2013 (Ugarit News via AP video)
x
Free Syrian Army fighters drop shell into a firing tube, in Damascus countryside, Syria, Mar 24,2013 (Ugarit News via AP video)
Free Syrian Army fighters drop shell into a firing tube, in Damascus countryside, Syria, Mar 24,2013 (Ugarit News via AP video)
Margaret Besheer
The United Nations said Monday it is relocating about 50 of its international personnel from the Syrian capital after mortars fell near their hotel.

U.N. Spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters that a number of mortar shells fell near the Damascus hotel housing U.N. staff on Sunday and Monday. He said there was damage to the building and some cars, including a U.N. vehicle.  

The United Nation’s Department of Security assessed the situation and decided some personnel should be temporarily moved out of the country for safety reasons.

Those staffers are with the office of Joint Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi, who has been trying to find a political solution to the Syrian crisis for several months.

Nesirky said the move is strictly for security reasons. “We are temporarily relocating some of the U.N. international staff in Syria out of the country. As part of that effort, most of the Damascus-based staff of the Office of the Joint Special Representative for Syria are being temporarily relocated to Beirut and the Joint Special Representative's main office in Cairo. All of the national staff of that office have been asked to work from home, until further notice,” Nesirky said.

He said the United Nations would continue to help the Syrian people work towards a political solution to the two-year old crisis and he noted that the U.N.’s humanitarian work assisting millions of Syrians would continue.

The U.N. says it has about 100 international and 800 national staff inside Syria.

Separately, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said last week he plans to launch an investigation into the possible use of chemical weapons inside Syria. Ban said the investigation’s initial focus will be the Syrian government’s March 19 allegation that rebels used chemical weapons near Aleppo.

Britain and France wrote the U.N. chief last week asking him to investigate three other incidents in which they believe the government used chemical agents.

While not directly saying those incidents would be investigated, he asked those two governments to provide more information and said he would remain “mindful of other allegations”.

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin dismissed the Western allegations Monday, saying that many political goals are being pursued in Syria.

“We see that letter [from Britain and France] as nothing else as an effort at diversion, in order to delay and possibly derail an investigation of the March 19 incident. We believe that the allegation which was made by the Syrian government is the only credible allegation of the use of chemical weapons in the course of the crisis,” Churkin said.

Churkin also said that his government wanted the United Nations to include Russian experts in their chemical weapons investigation, but had been rebuffed by the Secretariat.

Moscow has remained very close to the government in Damascus throughout the two-year-long crisis.

You May Like

US Border Patrol Union Accused of Taking Sides on Immigration

Report alleges agents leaking info to immigration opponents, appearing at their private events; Center for Immigration Studies director defends agents' actions More

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Reporting from Somali capital for past decade, Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal has been working at one of Mogadishu's leading radio stations covering parliament More

Video Rights Monitor: Hate Groups' Use of Internet to Inflame, Recruit Growing

Wiesenthal Center's Abraham Cooper says extremists have become skilled at celebrating violence, ideology on Web More

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.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs