‘Moral obligation and political imperative’ to support Syria on path to peace: Guterres

© UNHCR/Diego Ibarra Sánchez Nine-year-old Syrian refugee from Deir el Zor sits outside his flooded tent at Dalhamiya informal settlement camp in Lebanon. 9 January 2019.

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.


Governments across the world have a “moral obligation” to help Syrians “unite around a vision for their common future”, finally bringing an end to eight years of brutal conflict, said the UN Secretary-General on Friday.

“As the conflict enters its ninth year, Syrians continue to suffer from one of the worst conflicts of our time,” said António Guterres, in an appeal for international action. “Hundreds of thousands have been killed, many more maimed physically and psychologically, millions remain displaced, tens of thousands are detained and missing, hundreds of thousands have died and Syrians in the northeast and northwest remain under constant fear of yet another humanitarian catastrophe unfolding”, he said.

Speaking at the end of a week which saw a record $7 billion pledged for the war-torn nation at an international ministerial conference in Brussels, Mr. Guterres urged all of the warring parties in Syria “to maintain their commitments and uphold the ceasefire arrangement in Idlib”, he said, following fresh violence in the last remaining rebel-held Governorate. “I am extremely concerned about reported increased military operations in the last few weeks. Counter-terrorism operations cannot override responsibilities to protect civilians. A ceasefire in Idlib is a necessary step to pave the way for a nation-wide ceasefire,” the UN chief added.

While fighting continues on any level, Mr. Guterres said that “international humanitarian law needs to be fully respected and human rights protected. Innocent civilians, the majority of them women and children, have paid the highest price in this conflict because of the blatant disregard for International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law.”

Thirdly, he said, “sustained humanitarian access remains critical, with 11.7 million people in need of protection and assistance.” Finally he added – thanking all the donors in Brussels who have promised fresh financial assistance – “strengthened international support is urgently required if the parties to the conflict are to seriously move towards finding a political solution that meets the legitimate aspirations of all Syrians.”

“It is a moral obligation and a political imperative for the international community to support Syrians to unite around a vision for their common future that protects civilians, alleviates suffering, prevents further instability, addresses the root causes of the conflict and forges, at long last, a credible negotiated solution,” the Secretary-General concluded.

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