GENEVA - Joint Special Envoy for Syria, Kofi Annan, says he hopes it will be possible to convene a high-level meeting of ministers at the end of the month to try to push the Syrian peace process forward. Annan says there is no time to waste, action must be taken to stop the Syrian crisis from spiraling out of control. He has even suggested Iran be part of the peace process.
Annan acknowledges the peace plan is not working, that violence in Syria is escalating and so is the suffering of the civilian population, especially children and women.
He says the only chance for forging peace in that country is to have the united and sustained support of the international community. He says it is time for countries of influence to raise the pressure on the parties to stop the killing and start the talking.
He added that Iran should be "part of the solution" for bringing peace to Syria. Russia has pushed for Iran's involvement in resolving the conflict, while the U.S. has said Iran should not be involved.
He says the peace process cannot go on indefinitely. It cannot be open-ended. He says it is urgent that consultations yield real results before it is too late to stop the crisis from spiraling out of control.
Annan agrees it is hard to know when a situation is likely to spiral out of control. But, he adds, if violence continues to escalate, there will come a moment when it will become clear to everyone that the situation is not sustainable and is beyond control.
“And, we do not want to get there. And, this is why we are trying to press and push to see if we can get the parties to take steps to end the violence before we get to that stage. I do not think we are there yet. But, we may not be far from there. And, my own wish is to appeal to the fighters to really put down their guns for the sake of the Syrian people,” Annan said.
The United Nations reports the humanitarian situation in Syria continues to deteriorate. It estimates up to 1.5 million civilians within the country are in need of assistance. In addition, there are 92,000 registered refugees in neighboring countries.
One week ago, the Head of the U.N. Supervision Mission in Syria temporarily suspended the observer mission due to the escalation of violence. General Robert Mood says the observers are mainly in team sites and headquarters. He says they are performing normal administrative activities until the risks diminish and they can resume their monitoring activities.
He says the level of destruction in the country is enormous and the humanitarian needs are huge. He says the continued military occupation of hospitals, health facilities and schools is preventing people from getting medical care. He says civilians are trapped in combat zones.
He says he is very concerned about the way in which the situation in Syria is evolving.
“If I am frank, I would say that I think there are a lot of stakeholders trying to buy time related to the crisis in Syria and coming from me, I am now relating it to the ground inside because I have yet to hear from anyone a clear strategic operational vision of how they want to go forward, whether in one direction or in the other. So, I think many see themselves served with more time,” Mood said.
Though he too is disconcerted by events on the ground, Kofi Annan says people must not lose hope. He says there is no other alternative. He says the international community cannot just step back and do nothing. He says things can change at any time and plans for peace that now are not being implemented, can suddenly shift for the better.