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Chief UN Observer Warns Of Deteriorating Humanitarian Situation In Syria
332 days ago
(RTTNews) - The chief of the the U.N. Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) has warned that humanitarian situation in the restive Middle East nation is deteriorating steadily amid escalating violence.
Speaking to reporters after briefing the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) in New York on Tuesday, Maj-Gen. Robert Mood noted that the suffering of men, women and children in Syria, some of them trapped by fighting, was "getting worse" on a daily basis.
His remarks came days after the U.N. announced that it was suspending its observer mission in Syria because of danger to its staff on the ground. Incidentally, the UNSMIS was deployed in Syria in April to observe implementation of the peace plan proposed by U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan for resolving the crisis.
Since April, some 298 military observers and 112 civilian staff were deployed in Syria to observe the plan's fulfillment. The decision to suspended the activities of the UNSMIS came after the observers were targeted by hostile crowds and gunfire.
Regarding the suspension of activities of UNSMIS in wake of frequent attacks, Gen. Mood said: "I made that decision based on the risks on the ground and based on the fact that risks made it extremely difficult to implement mandated tasks."
Gen. Mood said UNSMIS observers faced direct targeting and violence, including shelling, small arms fire and other incidents. He said the decision to suspend the monitoring activities of UNSMIS was being reviewed on a daily basis, but added that they would resume only if there was a significant reduction in violence.
The Chief Military Observer stressed that there needs to be a commitment by both the government and the Opposition to the observers' safety and security, as well as their freedom of movement, and added: "The Government has expressed that very clearly in the last couple of days. I've not seen the same clear statements from the Opposition yet.
The rebel groups said earlier that they were no longer committed to Annan's plan, citing continued killings of civilians by Syrian security forces as the reason. Incidentally, Annan's plan calls for an end to violence, access for humanitarian agencies to provide relief to those in need, release of detainees, the start of inclusive political dialogue that takes into account the aspirations of the Syrian people, and unrestricted access to the country for the international media.
According to the U.N., more than 10,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Syria and tens of thousands displaced since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began in March 2011. But, the Opposition claims that the actual death toll is much higher. Notably, the Assad government continues to blame "armed terrorist gangs" backed by Islamists and foreign mercenaries for the violence.
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