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

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed 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.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs