GENEVA - United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is calling for an end to the relentless bombing campaign of Syria’s northern city of Aleppo, which is killing and wounding civilians, in addition to damaging and destroying much of the infrastructure.
Ban steps down as U.N. secretary-general at the end of the year. During his last news conference in Geneva, he expressed regret that after 10 years in the job, there are still, what he calls, "many fires burning around the world." And, the most catastrophic crisis of all, he says, is Syria.
“We are out of words to express our outrage at the carnage, especially in Aleppo. The brutality is unrelenting," said Ban. "I strongly condemn the deliberate campaign against the civilians and the health workers and humanitarian personnel trying to save them.”
While the warring parties are most to blame for this ongoing conflict, he says countries with influence, usually taken to mean the United States and Russia, also are responsible for ending the attacks.
In the particular case of Aleppo, it is widely agreed that Syrian government forces backed by Russia are causing most of the death and destruction.
The World Health Organization reports more than 330 people, about one third of them children, have been killed in recent weeks due to bombardment. In addition, most of Aleppo’s hospitals have been deliberately targeted and put out of service.
The U.N. chief says everyone must act on behalf of the 13.5 million Syrians who desperately need help and for the stability of the region.
“Willful and blatant disregard of international humanitarian law is creating large-scale suffering and long-term damage," he said. "This must be met with a forceful global response...I am deeply troubled that even almost after six years and the United Nations heavy engagement, we are still seeing violence continuing.”
Ban says opposing factions must get rid of the unrealistic notion that the war can be won. He says there is no military solution and that only a political settlement will end this situation.