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.
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

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines 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.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid