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UN: Decision To Downsize Syria Observer Mission Not Permanent
302 days ago
(RTTNews) - Herve Ladsous, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said Thursday the recent downsizing of the UN observer mission in Syria was not permanent, and stressed that the original strength of the mission will be restored once ground conditions improve.
Addressing a news conference held in the Syrian capital city of Damascus on Thursday, Ladsous said the move to send half of the 300 observers serving with the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) home was prompted by the worsening security situation in the unrest-hit Middle East nation.
"We found ourselves with too many people with not enough to do. Should the circumstances change, and that is our sincere hope, then all these people will be recalled to duty," Ladsous, who arrived in Syria earlier this week, said.
Noting the "very high levels of violence" reported in Damascus, Aleppo, Deir E-Zour and Homs, Ladsous said the UN mission "will try our best to contribute towards finding the solutions, but the solutions, especially the political solution, must exist in a framework and in a process that will be Syrian-owned and Syrian-led."
Notably, the UN observer mission had recently suspended its regular patrols due to the escalating violence in the country. The latest developments come just days after the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) extended the mandate of UNSMIS for a final period of 30 days.
The UNSMIS was established by the UNSC in April for a ninety-day period for monitoring a previously agreed ceasefire and implementing a six-point peace plan proposed by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan.
The Annan plan calls for an end to violence in Syria, access for humanitarian agencies to provide relief to those in need, release of detainees, the start of inclusive political dialogue, and unrestricted access to the country for the international media. Nonetheless, Syrian rebel groups have abandoned the plan, citing continued killing of civilians by government forces as the reason.
The UN estimates that more than 10,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed and tens of thousands displaced since the uprising against President Assad began in March 2011. The Opposition, however, claims the actual death toll closer to 18,000.
The ongoing conflict in Syria is now viewed as a civil war by most of the international community and has forced hundreds of thousands of Syrians to seek refuge in camps set up in neighboring Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan.
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