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UN officials press for united action to end Syria crisis

“Syria is at a pivotal moment. And so are we,” United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told a meeting of the General Assembly Thursday, 7 June 2012. “Syria and the region can quickly move from tipping point to breaking point. The dangers of full-scale civil war are imminent and real.”

The meeting come in the wake of the recent massacre in Houla, where 108 people, including 49 children, many of whom were under the age of 10, were killed, as well as reports of large-scale killings in Mazraat al-Qubeir, near Hama, which the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) was trying to verify.

“We condemn this unspeakable barbarity and renew our determination to bring those responsible to account,” said Mr. Ban, who added that UN observers, who were initially denied access, are working now to get to the scene. While trying to do so, they were shot at with small arms.

There was “too little evidence,” he said, that the Syrian Government was living up to its commitments under the six-point plan presented by Kofi Annan, the Joint Special Envoy of the UN and the League of Arab States for the Syrian Crisis.

The plan calls for an end to violence, access for humanitarian agencies to provide relief to those in need, the release of detainees, the start of inclusive political dialogue that takes into account the aspirations of the Syrian people, and unrestricted access for the international media.

Mr. Annan reported to the Assembly that, despite the acceptance of the six-point plan and the deployment of UN observers to Syria, the plan is not being implemented.

“The international community has united, but it now must take that unity to a new level. We must find the will and the common ground to act – and act as one. Individual actions or interventions will not resolve the crisis.

“As we demand compliance with international law and the six-point plan, it must be made clear that there will be consequences if compliance is not forthcoming,” said the envoy.

Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, stressed that the serious deterioration of the human rights situation being witnessed in Syria demands the full attention and engagement of Member States.

“People are dying as we speak,” she said in a statement that was delivered by the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Ivan Šimonovic.

Ms. Pillay reported that her office had documented continuing and additional serious human rights violations in Syria following a recent mission in countries neighbouring the country.

Among other atrocities, the UN Human Rights Office had documented “a pattern of civilian deaths and injuries reportedly arising from the use of live ammunition and lethal use of force against protestors, as well as from indiscriminate attacks and lack of proportionality resulting from the continued use of heavy weapons in populated areas.”

“My Office has also received multiple reports of civilians being killed by snipers in Homs when seeking food and other basic necessities of life,” she added.

“The Joint Special Envoy’s six-point plan must be implemented,” she said. “Only a negotiated solution which guarantees the political participation and the protection of the rights of all Syrians – regardless of their religion, ethnicity or political belief – can prevent further human rights violations and further bloodshed.”

7 June 2012

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