Realizing Syrians' dream for peace still has long way to go: UN envoy

Source: Xinhua| 2020-02-20 01:40:54|Editor: Shi Yinglun
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UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 19 (Xinhua) -- Geir Pedersen, UN special envoy for Syria, said Wednesday that realizing the dream of the Syrian people for peace has a long way to go, while once again calling on all warring parties to cease fire immediately in the country.

"Since my briefing two weeks ago, I cannot report any progress in ending the current violence in the northwest or in reconvening the political process," Pedersen started his briefing at the Security Council on a pessimistic note.

"As the secretary-general has stressed, we are alarmed by the rapid deterioration of the humanitarian situation in northwest Syria and the tragic suffering of civilians. The ongoing offensive has displaced almost 900,000 civilians since Dec. 1, 2019, often multiple times. Hundreds have been killed during the same period," said the envoy.

Hostilities are now "approaching densely populated areas." People are on the move "in freezing temperatures" in search of safety. More than four of every five of the newly displaced civilians are "women and children." Young children are "dying from the cold." The potential for further mass displacement and even more catastrophic human suffering "is apparent," as an increasing number of people are hemmed into an ever-shrinking space, said the envoy while elaborating on the deteriorating situation in the country.

"HTS (the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the umbrella group of the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front) and other proscribed terrorist groups remain a major presence inside Idlib," he said.

"There are worrying developments elsewhere on the ground as well. The situation in southern Syria remains of concern," he added.

"ISIL resurgence is very worrying with frequent attacks registered in the northeast, the desert region around Homs and other areas," the envoy noted.

Talking about the humanitarian situation, Pedersen said that "the devastating scale of humanitarian suffering is primarily caused by violent conflict. More broadly, the Syrian economy continues to face serious challenges, the result of a variety of factors, developments and measures."

Noting that "all of these developments, across the country, remind us that Syria's sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence remains seriously compromised by the continuing conflict, he said that "we are a long way from finding a way to ensure that the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people for peace, security and a better future are realized."

The envoy said that much more needs to be done to advance a broader process in line with Security Council resolution 2254.

"Today, my first concern is for the Syrian civilians caught in the fighting, who continue to relay the urgency of their situation and their desperate need for safety. They feel they are not being heard," he said.

"I appeal once again for full respect for international humanitarian law and for an immediate ceasefire in Idlib, ultimately towards a nationwide ceasefire. I urge key international players to continue and intensify their contacts to restore calm. I urge all members of this Council to put their weight firmly behind the search for a political way forward," said the envoy.