Credible political transition remains ‘central issue’ in ending horrific Syrian conflict
Oct.21, Geneva: Stressing that the Syrian conflict “continues to reach new and awful depths,” United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed Russia’s latest unilateral announcement of a humanitarian pause to the bombing in war-raved eastern Aleppo, but emphasized that the nationwide ceasefire must be revived.
“I welcome the unilateral pause in the bombing, announced by the Russian Federation, which began today,” Mr. Ban told the UN General Assembly during an informal meeting on the situation in Syria, in which his Special Envoy for the country, Staffan de Mistura, addressed Member States via videoconference from Geneva.
“This has helped pave the way for the implementation of the UN’s medical evacuation plan,” said Mr. Ban, noting that UN agencies and their partners are preparing to carry out urgent medical evacuations and provide emergency medical supplies for hundreds of sick and critically wounded people and their families in eastern Aleppo.
But this is the bare minimum. It is far from enough. We need full humanitarian access to eastern Aleppo. “This depends on all sides adhering to security assurances and facilitating this urgent, life-saving initiative,” the UN chief said. “But this is the bare minimum. It is far from enough. We need full humanitarian access to eastern Aleppo.”
According to UN agencies, the offensive being carried out by the Syrian Government in eastern Aleppo since 23 September has been the most sustained and intensive aerial bombardment since the conflict began. Nearly 500 people have been killed and nearly 2,000 injured, with more than a quarter of all deaths being children. No UN convoy has entered eastern Aleppo since 7 July.
“Under these medieval conditions, the vulnerable are suffering the most,” Mr. Ban said. “The health sector has been mercilessly pummelled – hundreds of people are in urgent need of medical evacuation,” he added.
People across the world are rightly asking how any further destruction can be tolerated, he said, explaining that they are looking for signs that the international community – the UN – has a conscience and a heart, and are asking if the UN has learned anything from Srebrenica and Rwanda [genocides] and when the international community will unite to stop the carnage.
Yet sadly, long-standing and familiar divisions continue to stand in the way, as evidenced in the Security Council’s inability to discharge its responsibilities on this issue, regional rivalries that have taken primacy over the needs of the Syrian people, and the Syrian parties’ continued faith in rockets, guns and barrel bombs.
“There is no military solution to the Syrian crisis,” Mr. Ban stressed. “The nationwide cessation of hostilities must be revived and the Government must agree to ground its air force over Aleppo. Extremist elements must be isolated. This will require robust and credible monitoring and compliance mechanisms.”
The central issue is and must remain a credible political transition, he said, stating that this is fundamental to realizing a process by which the Syrian people can achieve a new, peaceful and democratic reality, while protecting their sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence, preserving and reforming their state institutions, and uniting against terrorism.
Mr. Ban recalled that the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) has urged the Syrian parties to agree on a framework for a genuine political transition, which would include a broad, inclusive transitional body with full executive powers. This is also consistent with Security Council resolution 2254 (2015), which endorsed a roadmap for peace in the country, and the 2012 Geneva Communiqué, he added.
The Oslo Times International News Network