News / Middle East

UN Syria Chief: Violence Impeded Mission’s Work

Maj. Gen. Robert Mood,  head of the U.N. observer mission in Syria, speaks to reporters at U.N. headquarters in New York, June 19, 2012 Maj. Gen. Robert Mood, head of the U.N. observer mission in Syria, speaks to reporters at U.N. headquarters in New York, June 19, 2012
x
Maj. Gen. Robert Mood,  head of the U.N. observer mission in Syria, speaks to reporters at U.N. headquarters in New York, June 19, 2012
Maj. Gen. Robert Mood, head of the U.N. observer mission in Syria, speaks to reporters at U.N. headquarters in New York, June 19, 2012
Margaret Besheer
UNITED NATIONS - The head of the U.N. monitoring mission in Syria said he suspended patrols by the 300 unarmed observers late last week because of security concerns for the monitors, but that they would remain in the country.  Norwegian Major General Robert Mood told the U.N. Security Council Tuesday that his monitors had been targeted several times in recent weeks, making it extremely difficult to carry out their mandated tasks.

Major General Robert Mood briefed council members for two hours in a closed-door meeting.  He said several factors went into his decision on Saturday to temporarily suspend the United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria, or UNSMIS.

“I halted the operations with UNSMIS because of the risk level - the violence - and because it is difficult to implement mandated tasks in these circumstances," said Mood. "That in itself is a message.  We need to see a change if the activities of the mission in its current configuration, under the current mandate, is going to be meaningful.”

He said in order to restart patrols, there must be a significant reduction in violence and commitments from both the government and opposition for the observers’ safety. He said so far he has only received such a commitment from the government.

In April, the U.N. Security Council unanimously approved the deployment of up to 300 unarmed observers to monitor what was to be a cessation of hostilities in Syria and the implementation of mediator Kofi Annan’s six-point peace plan.  After a brief lull in the violence, attacks spiked, including massacres in the towns of al-Houla and Qubair.

The U.N. Security Council will have to decide by July 20 whether to extend the U.N.'s initial 90-day deployment.  A report with proposals for the observers from the Secretary-General is expected on July 2.

U.N. Peacekeeping Chief Hervé Ladsous also briefed the council.  He told reporters that the United Nations has decided not to modify the mission now, but would consider its options as the July deadline approaches.  He said they would center on scenarios in which the security situation improves dramatically, allowing the observers to carry out their mission or other options if that does not happen.  But Ladsous stressed that Kofi Annan’s six-point peace plan remains the focus of efforts.

“Again, one has to say there is no other plan, no other game in town," said Ladsous. "There is no 'Plan B' [alternative plan].  So the six-point plan of Kofi Annan remains the reference, the framework, for a settlement of this dramatic crisis.”

China’s Ambassador Li Baodong, who holds the rotating presidency of the 15-nation Security Council this month, said the council calls on all parties to implement the Annan plan immediately and without conditions.

Syria’s ambassador, Bashar Ja’afari, reiterated Damascus’ full commitment to the plan and added that the government hopes the observers can restart their mission soon.  

The United Nations says the political violence during the past 16 months has killed at least 10,000 Syrians and caused a humanitarian crisis, leaving more than 1 million Syrians in need of assistance and making at least 86,000 more refugees.

You May Like

Will Cuba Follow the Southeast Asia Model?

Decision to restore ties between US and Cuba has some debating whether it will lead to enhancement or regression of democracy for Communist island nation More

Kenyan Designer Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

‘Made in China’ fabrics underlie her success More

Report: CIA, Israel's Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Commander

The Washington Post story says Imad Mughniyah was killed instantly by a bomb "triggered remotely" from Tel Aviv by Mossad agents More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid