News / Middle East

UN Rights Chief Says Syria Conflict Widening

This citizen journalism image shows Syrian citizens searching under rubble to rescue people from a building that was destroyed from a Syrian forces airstrike, at Kfar Nebel town, in Idlib province, northern Syria, October 17, 2012.
This citizen journalism image shows Syrian citizens searching under rubble to rescue people from a building that was destroyed from a Syrian forces airstrike, at Kfar Nebel town, in Idlib province, northern Syria, October 17, 2012.
TEXT SIZE - +
Lisa Schlein
— United Nations Human Rights Chief, Navi Pillay warns Syria's civil war is threatening to engulf the region in conflict. Pillay is urging the international community to act to stop Syria's conflict from spiraling.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, says the situation in Syria is dire. She says the longer the war goes on the greater the danger that people will become immune to the suffering of the Syrian people.

Human rights groups estimate more than 30,000 people have been killed since the conflict began in March, 2011. The U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) says the number of Syrian refugees could reach 700,000 by the end of the year.

Pillay says there are numerous violations being committed by both government and opposition forces that may amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity. She calls government bombings and attacks on civilian areas "inexcusable" and says the U.N. Security Council must act.

"I urge the Security Council to speak with one voice and to act as one," said Pillay.  "That is essential in order to send a strong message.  The longer this vicious conflict continues, the more lethal it becomes not just for Syria's own long term future, but also for the entire region.  By remaining divided, the international community is enabling continuation of the suffering and helping create the circumstances for a wider regional conflict."  

The Syrian government says it is fighting an insurgency led by "terrorists" and agitators supported by international opposition to its regime.

But Pillay says alleged perpetrators of crimes against humanity should be brought before the International Criminal Court.  Pillay says she has met with the U.N. special envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, and says she supports his efforts to broker a cease-fire.

On other issues, she says the Middle East and North Africa region is expected to remain a priority throughout her second term.  She says much work needs to be done to ensure that the human rights of people in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen are respected.

Pillay says she will try to shine a greater spotlight on some of the world's neglected situations.  For example, she cites the human rights situation in North Korea as of particular concern, noting the use of political prison camps, frequent public executions and severe food shortages.  

Pillay condemned the attack by the Taliban against a 14-year-old Pakistani girl, Malala Yousafzai. She says the work of Malala and human rights defenders must be protected.

She notes attacks on human rights defenders, including killings, arrest, torture, and unfair trial, continue on a regular basis in many parts of the world.

"I am really shocked at the number of journalists who are killed just for their investigative work," added Pillay.  "They may be killed by authorities or by drug dealers in Mexico, for instance.  And, I am calling for their full protection by the government.  It is the responsibility of the government to fully respect the right to freedom of expression and to protect those who exercise this right."  

Pillay is the first High Commissioner to be formally appointed for a second term by the General Assembly.

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