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.
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

HRW: Egypt's Trial of Morsi ‘Badly Flawed’

Human Rights Watch says former Egypt leader's detention without charge for more than three weeks after his removal from office violated Egyptian law; government rejects criticism More

Photogallery Lancet Report Calls for Major Investment in Surgery

In its report published by The Lancet, panel of experts says people are dying from conditions easily treated in the operating room such as hernia, appendicitis, obstructed labor, and serious fractures More

Music Industry Under Sway of Digital Revolution

Millions of people in every corner of the Earth now can enjoy a vast variety and quantity of music in a way that has never before been possible 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.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs