News / Middle East

UN Officials: War Crimes Now 'The Rule' in Syria

A 14-year-old fighter, whom activists say is the youngest in the Khadraa brigade operating under the Free Syrian Army, chats with his fellow fighters in Deir al-Zor, July 9, 2013.
A 14-year-old fighter, whom activists say is the youngest in the Khadraa brigade operating under the Free Syrian Army, chats with his fellow fighters in Deir al-Zor, July 9, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
VOA News
Aid groups and United Nations officials are pleading with the Syrian government and armed opposition groups to allow access to unarmed civilians, saying crimes against humanity "are the rule" as fighting rages on in the Syrian civil war.

U.N. Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Šimonović told members of the U.N. Security Council Tuesday the conflict is claiming about 5,000 lives a month and that there are documented cases of children being detained, tortured and executed. He said the number of incidents that can be classified as massacres has been steadily increasing.

U.N. officials place the blame both on government forces and armed opposition groups, charging both have prevented humanitarian aid from reaching civilians.  

Šimonović said, at times, civilians trying to flee the fighting have been stopped at government checkpoints only to be sent back to their deaths.

U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres said Tuesday the Syrian refugee crisis is now the worst since the Rwandan genocide, with nearly 1.8 million people registered in neighboring countries.

Many aid groups say the crisis has rapidly depleted their resources.

The head of the World Food Program said in an interview with VOA that it will run out of money by the end of August. During a stop in Beirut, Ertharin Cousin said by the end of the year, four million inside Syria and three million outside will need emergency feeding, costing the WFP $168 million a month.

The United Nations launched a record $5.1 billion appeal last month to cope with the growing humanitarian crisis.

The refugee crisis

Many refugee camps are also feeling the strain. A camp set up last year in Iraqi Kurdistan to accommodate 25,000 people is now hosting about twice that number, with many families doubling up in tents.The sewage system cannot cope with the demand and Iraqi Kurdish authorities have repeatedly voiced frustration at the lack of outside support for the displaced Syrians within their territory.

A representative for the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told the U.N. Security Council Tuesday it has been doing everything it can to meet the humanitarian needs of its people. He also blamed many of the problems on terrorists, some of whom have infiltrated Syria from other countries. The Assad government often uses the term terrorist to describe opposition forces.

Violence in and around Syria has continued despite calls by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for a cease-fire during Ramadan.

A roadside bomb detonated near the Syrian-Lebanese border Tuesday, wounding at least two people.  

Meanwhile, gunmen backing President Assad have killed seven members of a reconciliation team working in Homs province.

The killings happened Monday in the village of Hajar Abyad. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the area is a stronghold for pro-government militia and that the men were Sunni Muslims.

The reconciliation committee members were part of an effort to convince warring parties in Syria to halt the fighting that has stretched on for more than two years.

Homs is located at a strategic crossroad linking the capital, Damascus, with army bases in coastal regions controlled by Mr. Assad's Alawite sect. The Alawites are an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam that has dominated majority Sunni Syria for decades.

You May Like

'Exceptionally Lucky' US Boy Survives Flight in Wheel Well

The boy was unconscious for most of the flight, and appeared to be unharmed after enduring the extremely cold temperatures and lack of oxygen More

US Anti-Corruption Law Snags Major Tech Company

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act was signed into law by President Jimmy Carter in December, 1977 More

Cameron Criticized for Calling UK 'Christian Country'

Letter from scientists, academics and writers says the prime minister is fostering division by repeatedly referring to England as a 'Christian country' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Sonja blohmi from: New York
July 17, 2013 9:40 AM
Obama is slowly getting the USA into this war. Obama is a horrible leader.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid