A Weekly Update from the UN Department of Public Information
No 45/ 4 June 2014
Secretary- General thanks Lakhdar Brahimi for his tireless efforts
On 31 May, the Secretary-General called LakhdarBrahimi to thank him for his work on the last day of his mission as the Joint Special Representative for Syria. He appreciated Mr. Brahimi’s tireless efforts over the past two years to achieve a political solution in Syria. He also sent Mr. Brahimi a letter, saying that he regretted that the parties have proven so reluctant to take advantage of the opportunity to end the tragic suffering of the Syrian people. But, he noted that Mr. Brahimi had made history by bringing the Syrian sides to the table for the first time. And the Secretary-General added that he looks forward to continuing to count on Mr. Brahimi’s wisdom, advice and unique experience on issues of concern to the United Nations. Answering questions on 2 June, the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General refused to speculate on the successor for Mr. Brahimi.
U.N. not involved in Syria elections, stressed need for political solution for conflict
On 3 June, the Secretary-General pointed out that the Syrian elections were being held outside of the framework of the Geneva talks, which aim to bring the Syrian sides together reach a political solution to the conflict.The United Nations wasnot involved in the elections but had taken note of the environment in which they were being held.
ASG Kyung-wha Kang briefs the Security Council on humanitarian access
The Deputy Emergency Relief CoordinatorandAssistant-Secretary-General for Humanitarian AffairsKyung-wha Kangbriefed the Security Council on29 May on the humanitarianaccess in Syria. ASG Kang noted with deep regret that three months since the Security Council resolution 2139 was passed, it has not delivered what it intended. She said that violence continues relentlessly, killing and maiming women, children and men, as do flagrant violations of international humanitarian law and human rights by all parties, and the arbitrary denial of assistance to people in desperate need.
USG Amossays that humanitarian access continues to be bad
Speaking to reporters on 4 June, the Emergency Relief Coordinator and Under- Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos said that it has been three months since the Security Council passed Resolution 2139. It’s a resolution which is extremely comprehensive and seeks to address issues related to access to people in need inside Syria, the obligations by the parties to adhere to international humanitarian law, and the demilitarization of schools and hospitals. The monitoring reports presented to the Security Council show that the resolution has not delivered what it intended and, as Assistant Secretary-General Kyung-wha Kang reported to Council members last week, we continue to see rising levels of violence in Syria. Since the Secretary-General’s last report we have seen a marked increase in the indiscriminate use of barrel bombs by the Government, mortar attacks by opposition groups, poisonous gases allegedly used against civilians, and the collective punishment of civilians.
As Syria deadline nears, OPCW-UN mission focuses on swift removal of remaining chemicals
Given that the 30 June 2014 deadline for the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons programme will not be met, the focus now was on the immediate removal of the remaining materials, the head of the OPCW-UN Joint Mission said on 4 June.“The deadline will not be met,” Special Coordinator Sigrid Kaag told reporters, referring to the destruction of the full arsenal of the country’s chemical weapons in line with the decisions taken by the UN Security Council and the OPCW Executive Council.
Door remains wide open for further atrocities after lack of referral to the ICC, UN experts warn
On 30 May, a group of United Nations independent human rights experts emphasized that the UN Security Council’s decision not to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC) had left the door wide open for new atrocities in the ongoing conflict. “The double veto last week to a resolution referring the situation in Syria to the ICC is likely to expose the Syrian population to further gross human rights and humanitarian law violations,” they said. “The failure to hold those responsible for the violations to account may fuel further atrocities.” The human rights experts stressed that “given the absence of prosecution at the domestic level it was the UN Security Council’s responsibility to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court.”
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With Syria’s culture near ‘point of no return’, UN agency to create safeguard observatory
In hopes of ebbing the ‘cultural haemorrhage’ in Syria, the United Nations cultural agency announced on 28 May that it will establish an observatory to monitor and access the state of Syria’s cultural heritage which is ‘reaching the point of no return.’ Based at its office in Beirut, Lebanon, the Observatory will maintain an online platform where national and international stakeholders will share information on damaged structures, looted artefacts and all forms of endangered intangible heritage. “In some areas we are reaching the point of no return where Syria’s cultural heritage is concerned,” cautioned Irina Bokova, Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). “The destruction of heritage represents a cultural haemorrhage in addition to the tragic humanitarian crisis and suffering experienced by the people of Syria,” she added. In particular, Ms. Bokova highlighted the recent extensive damage to the historical synagogue of Eliyahu Hanabi in Damascus.
Relevant links to UN Secretariat, Agencies, Funds and Programmes on Syria
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