WITH SYRIAN PEACE TALKS UNDERWAY, UN URGES SUPPORT FOR NEGOTIATIONS AND IMPACTED SYRIANS
DAMASCUS, March 16 — Marking the fifth anniversary of the Syrian conflict, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appealed to the stakeholders and the Security Council to fulfil their responsibilities and to help make the United Nations-mediated peace talks a success.
“If we miss this opportunity the consequences for the Syrian people and the world are too frightening to contemplate,” the Secretary-General said in a message aimed at the Syrian parties, regional and international stakeholders and the Council.
Already in the past five years, more than one-quarter million Syrians have been killed and nearly half of all Syrians have been forced from their homes.
Terrorist groups such as Daesh and Al Nusra Front have capitalised on the chaos, with foreign fighters and sectarian militias continuing to pour into Syria, Ban said.
The conflict “has been the scene of the use of chemical weapons, siege and starvation as a tool of war, unlawful detention, torture, and the indiscriminate and criminal shelling and aerial bombardment of civilians,” said Ban.
Syrian men, women and children feel abandoned by the international community, he said, urging those responsible for these crimes to be held to account.
“I repeat my call to the Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court,” Ban said. “In Syria as elsewhere, peace without justice is not sustainable.”
Meanwhile, the intra-Syrian talks commenced this week with UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura at the helm. The talks are being convened in the context of the full implementation of the Geneva Communique as the basis for a Syrian-led political transition.
Reacting today to the announcement by President Vladimir Putin that Russia is withdrawing the bulk of its forces from Syria, de Mistura called it a “significant development” which “we hope will have a positive impact on the progress of the negotiations.”