NEW YORK: Syria’s 11 years of brutal fighting has come at an “unconscionable human cost”, subjecting millions there to human rights violations on a “massive and systematic scale”, said the UN chief on Friday, marking yet another tragic anniversary
“The destruction that Syrians have endured is so extensive and deadly that it has few equals in modern history”, said Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in a statement. “There must be no impunity.”
‘We must not lose hope’
He noted that the slow but systematic destruction of basic infrastructure around the country, since the civil war began in 2011 in the wake of the so-called “Arab Spring” of popular uprisings across the Middle East, has “deepened the economic crisis” and now, humanitarian needs are at their highest level since conflict began.
“Millions of internally displaced and refugees struggle to survive in the most difficult circumstances”, said the UN chief.
“We must not lose hope, we must act now. We must show the courage and determination to move beyond rhetorical commitments to peace and to do all that is necessary to reach a negotiated political solution in line with Security Council resolution 2254 (2015).”
He said the resolution which provided a road map for a peace process towards a new constitution, and a solution which would meet the aspirations of all Syrians; create the necessary conditions to allow refugees to return, in safety and dignity; addressed terrorist threats; and at the same time, respect Syrian “sovereignty, territorial integrity, and independence.”
“We must ensure greater humanitarian access to address needs of people throughout the country” said Mr. Guterres. “Cross-line and cross-border deliveries are essential to reach millions of people in need. Also, early recovery assistance builds resilience while addressing immediate life-saving needs.”
‘Moral and humanitarian imperative’
He called on the Security Council to renew resolution 2585 (2021) in July, which would keep humanitarian aid flowing across the border.
“It is a moral and humanitarian imperative”, added Mr. Guterres.
The UN chief called for collective action to end the practice of arbitrary detention and forcible disappearance of many tens of thousands across Syria.
“It is time to respond to the urgent calls of families across Syria who are seeking to clarify the fate and whereabouts of their missing loved ones. As families seek truth for their loved ones, thousands continue to languish in prisons in unimaginable conditions.”
“My message is clear”, he concluded: “We cannot fail the Syrian people. The conflict must cease. International humanitarian law must be respected. I call on all parties to meaningfully engage in the UN-facilitated political process and appeal for further support to scale up the humanitarian response. We must choose peace.”