News / Middle East

UN Security Council Hears ‘Chilling’ Briefing on Syrian Crisis

TEXT SIZE - +

European members of the U.N. Security Council are urging Syria to comply with the body’s calls for it to end a bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, otherwise, they warn the council will consider further steps to pressure Damascus.

The 15-member council was privately briefed Wednesday afternoon on the situation in Syria by a top U.N. political officer, Oscar Fernandez-Taranco.

Afterwards, Britain’s deputy U.N. Ambassador Philip Parham outlined to reporters what he called a “chilling” and “depressing” briefing.

“It is clear that the military offensive by the regime against its own people continues; an offensive which is brutal, an offensive which is unwarranted and an offensive which is in breech of the regime’s international legal obligations. And just to remind you of the scale of what we are talking about, some 2,000 civilians have now been killed, the vast majority of them unarmed. Some 3,000 civilians have been forcibly disappeared. Some 13,000 remain detained," he said.

The ambassador noted that since the protests began in mid-March, tens of thousands of people have fled their homes in northern Syria and several thousand remain as refugees in neighboring Turkey. He also condemned the lack of access for humanitarian workers and international media.

Speaking on behalf of his three European counterparts on the council, Ambassador Parham underscored some key points the U.N. secretariat made during the closed-door session: that gross human rights violations are being perpetrated; there is no prospect of progress as long as military operations continue against civilians; and that for reform measures to gain credibility the use of force and mass arrests must stop immediately.

Ambassador Parham said the Syrian regime needs to heed the calls that have come from the Security Council, as well as the Arab League, the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, Turkey and others to stop the violence and implement real political reforms.

“And if they continue, nevertheless, along their current path, and they fail to heed those calls, then we believe the council must look at taking further steps to keep up the pressure on the Syrian regime to get things onto a better track. And that kind of pressure will be consistent with and complimentary to the pressure that we have now seen coming from the region and from other parts of the international community," he said.

The U.S. Ambassador, Susan Rice, echoed that position, saying Washington would continue and intensify its pressure both through additional U.S.-imposed sanctions, as well as through coordinated efforts with other nations.

Syria’s U.N. envoy, Bashar Ja’afari told reporters that statements by Ambassador Parham and his European counterparts were wrong.

“They tried to manipulate the truth and to hide important facts and elements related to the so-called situation in Syria. Deliberately they condoned and ignored very important steps taken by the Syrian government. Deliberately they ignored and avoided making reference to very important and positive progress that has been achieved in my country," he said.

He gave as examples of that progress the visit of Turkey’s foreign minister to Damascus on Tuesday and the meeting Wednesday between Syrian President Bashar al Assad and delegates from India, Brazil and South Africa, during which, according to a communiqué, Mr. Assad reassured them of his commitment to the reform process and multi-party democracy before the end of this year.

Ambassador Ja’afari also tried to refute accusations that Syria is not allowing in international media to cover the situation saying that the government had taken reporters on a tour of the restive city of Hama on Wednesday. He speculated that in coming days there would be more possibilities for additional reporters to participate in such government-led tours.

But Germany’s deputy ambassador, Miguel Berger, noted that the real issue is not about how long political reforms take. It is, he said, about stopping the killing of peaceful demonstrators immediately and beginning a serious dialogue between the government and protesters.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid