News

UN Chief Demands Access to Battered Syrian District

Demonstrators gather during a protest against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad after Friday prayers in Yabroud near Damascus March 2, 2012.
Demonstrators gather during a protest against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad after Friday prayers in Yabroud near Damascus March 2, 2012.
Margaret Besheer

The U.N. Secretary-General warned Friday that Syria risks a descent into full civil war and sectarian strife that could plague the country for generations to come.  Ban Ki-moon told the U.N. General Assembly that the international community must act in a unified and urgent manner to end the past year’s bloodshed and suffering.

Two weeks ago the 193-member General Assembly overwhelmingly adopted a resolution condemning the widespread human rights abuses in Syria and calling for an immediate end to the violence.

In its resolution, the General Assembly required the U.N. chief to report to them within 15 days on whether their demands had been implemented. The continuing violence in Syria clearly shows they have not, and the Secretary-General reported that the United Nations continues to receive “grisly reports of summary executions, arbitrary detentions and torture.”


Ban referred to reports of brutal fighting in the towns of Homs and Hama and said the humanitarian situation has degraded to the point that people are melting snow for drinking water.

“This atrocious assault is all the more appalling for having been waged by the government itself, systematically attacking its own people. All agree we must act in the face of this escalating crisis,” Ban said.

Ban said the Syrian government has failed to deliver on its responsibility to protect its citizens and as a result the death toll has exceeded 7,500 people. He called on the international community to do everything within its power to end the crisis.

“We must help move towards a Syrian-led political transition to a democratic, pluralistic political system, as supported by this Assembly.  Yet to date, the international community has failed in its duty. In fact, the actions - indeed, the inaction - of the international community seems to have encouraged the Syrian authorities in their brutal suppression of its citizens,” Ban said.

Ban urged an immediate end to the violence and killings and said his humanitarian chief and international aid workers must be allowed in. On Friday, the International Committee of the Red Cross said they had reached the besieged town of Homs, but were not allowed to enter the hard hit Baba Amr district with relief supplies.

Syria’s U.N. Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari said he respects the U.N. chief very much, but that he was not well informed.  He called Ban’s remarks “aggressive," “virulent” and “slandering” and warned his report would increase tensions, not defuse them.

The envoy said he was not claiming that there are no problems or opposition in Syria, but blamed countries hostile to his government, as well as the foreign media, for targeting Syria. He said most of the country is living “normally” and blamed international sanctions for impeding access to food, fuel, medical supplies and cash.

The new U.N.-Arab League Joint Special Envoy for Syria, Kofi Annan, is headed to Cairo and the wider region next week in an effort to mediate a political solution to the nearly year-long crisis.

Join the conversation on our social journalism site -
Middle East Voices
. Follow our Middle East reports on
Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.
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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs