• Switzerland's news in English

UN chief: Syrian 'dissolution' in sight

The Local/AFP · 2 Mar 2013, 13:32

Published: 02 Mar 2013 13:32 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

"The military solution in Syria is leading to the dissolution of Syria," the UN chief said in Geneva, asking: "What atrocity must occur to finally stir the world to act?"

With the brutal, sectarian-tinged conflict between the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and rebels poised to enter its third year, Ban called for a renewed drive to halt the strife.

Syria has been embroiled in conflict since Assad's regime launched a brutal crackdown on protests that erupted in March 2011.

The United Nations says about 70,000 people have been killed, and with at least 5,000 Syrians a day fleeing this conflict-ravaged homeland, the total number of refugees is expected to top 1.1 million soon.

"For two years now, we have seen suppression of people's aspiration for change, the flight of ever-greater numbers of people from their homes, and the daily escalation of killing, war crimes and crimes against humanity," Ban said.

"The United Nations and our humanitarian partners are doing all we can to provide assistance. But in Syria and anywhere else, we must never use humanitarianism to avoid the tougher choices," he insisted.

Ban said it was down to all sides in Syria to come to the negotiating table, but urged the international community not to lose focus on the conflict there.

"We cannot change the channel and wish it away," he said.

"Those with the political power to change things must answer to every mother and every child in Syria. Inaction in the councils of peace looks like indifference in the cauldron of war," he added.

The UN Security Council's members have been at loggerheads over how to end Syria's civil war, with Assad's longstanding ally Russia, plus China, pitted against the United States, France and Britain, who are seeking a tough stance.

"The Security Council must no longer stand as a silent witness to the slaughter. At long last, it must come together and establish the parameters for the democratic transition that might be the last best hope for Syria," the UN chief said.

UN-mandated human rights investigators have also warned of increased radicalisation and sectarianism -- driven by foreign fighters, honed in conflict zones such as Libya or Afghanistan -- in the bloody civil war in the nation of 21 million.

Ban made his remarks honouring a bishop from South Sudan, who won a UN peace prize in recognition of his efforts to build trust among warring communities in his conflict-torn region.

Story continues below…

The Sergio Vieira de Mello Prize is named after the UN's former human rights chief who was killed in a bombing in Iraq in 2003.

At a press conference shortly before the award ceremony, Ban said he was due to meet the international community's mediator for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, during closed-door talks in Switzerland Saturday with 30 UN envoys deployed in the world's crisis zones.

"I'm very concerned about the sectarian violence and spillover effects in neighbouring countries," he told reporters, adding that there was a "very small window of opportunity" for peace.

"That window of opportunity may soon close," he warned.

The Local/AFP (news@thelocal.ch)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Montreux throws hat in Olympic rings
Could Montreux host the 2026 Games? Photo: Ivo Scholz/Swiss Tourism

Montreux is to put itself forward as the host city for the 2026 winter Olympics as part of a potential bid by the cantons of Valais and Vaud.

Geneva car share scheme could help reduce city traffic
Catch a Car is aimed at short hops within a city. Photo: Catch a Car

Catch a Car, already in Basel, launches in Geneva next month.

Swiss women will ‘work for free’ for the rest of year
Female employees in Switzerland earn 19.3 percent less than their male colleagues. File photo: Randy Kashka

Switzerland's gender pay gap means from today, Friday October 21st, women in the country will effectively be working for free for the rest of 2016.

Swiss luxury watches stolen in Paris raid
Police outside the Girard-Perregaux watch store on Thursday. Photo: Bertrand Guay/AFP

The 10 Girard-Perregaux watches are worth half a million euros in total.

Brother-in-law arrested over murder of Swiss teacher
The victim worked in a school in Stabio, near the town of Mendrisio. Photo: Oliver Graf

The primary school teacher was found dead in Ticino earlier this week.

Inside Switzerland’s largest nuclear bunker – 40 years on
Designed to house 20,000 people, the bunker was built in and over two motorway tunnels. Photo: Unterirdisch Ueberleben

The Local takes a tour of the Sonnenberg bunker in Lucerne, opened 40 years ago at the height of the Cold War.

Ten Swiss ski resorts named most expensive in Europe
File photo: Renato Bagattini/Swiss Tourism

Skiers in Switzerland pay the highest prices for their ski passes of anywhere in Europe, according to research.

Eco group fights Bern over wind farm plans
There are currently more than 30 wind farms in Switzerland. Photo: Alpiq

Wind turbines are “gigantic and destructive” machines, says Paysage Libre Suisse.

Vegan wins battle to be accepted by Swiss army
Antoni Da Campo will now carry out his military service. Photo: Antoni Da Campo

A Swiss man who was told he would not be accepted for military service because of his strict veganism has finally succeeded in making the army change its mind.

Geneva terror suspects to receive compensation
File photo: Emran Kassim

The Swiss public prosecutor has dropped the case against them.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Photo: Richard Juilliard/AFP
Man makes Geneva airport bomb threat ‘for a joke’
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Photo: AFP
Solar Impulse team reveals plans for unmanned plane
File photo: Martin Abegglen
Swiss to vote on passport rules for 3rd gen foreigners
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Photo: AFP
Swiss wingsuit hotspot Lauterbrunnen won’t impose ban
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Six reasons Switzerland isn’t as boring as you might think
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Report: Switzerland one of world’s best places for girls
Photo: The Local
Thief returns Swiss cow bells worth thousands
File photo: Wikimedia Commons
One in three rapists isn’t locked up: statistics
Photo: activistin.ch
Tampon-tax protest turns Zurich fountains red
Photo: AFP
Geneva police to lift ban on bearded officers
Photo: Marcel Gillieron/AFP
Suicide chef’s restaurant keeps Michelin stars
Photo: Lara de Salis
11 things the Swiss get tired of hearing abroad
Photo:  Ivo Scholz/Swiss-image.ch
Survey: expats in Switzerland have money but few friends
Photo: AFP
Swiss press criticize Bern’s 'capitulation' on immigration
Photo: Jura Trois Lacs tourism
German ex-policeman is Swiss city’s new hermit
Photo: Dmitry A. Mottl
Ticino votes to favour local workers over foreigners
Photo: file
Some deodorants could cause breast cancer: Swiss study
Photo: Royal Savoy
In pictures: Inside the latest Swiss luxury hotel
Photo: AFP
Geneva airport bomb hoaxer faces 90,000-franc bill
Photo: Schaffhausen police
Mother leaves toddler son alone in car to go clubbing
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Swiss populist attacked by knife-wielding pensioner
Photo: File
Bern argues over passports for 3rd generation foreigners
Photo: Broad Bean Media
Muslim pupils must shake hands – ‘no ifs and buts’
jobs available