NEW YORK (ArmRadio)—UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday urged the warring parties in Syria and their supporters to “do everything” to protect civilians in the Middle East country, where armed conflict entered its fourth year in March.
“In the face of troubling new reports of atrocities in the brutal conflict driving Syria to its destruction, the Secretary-General demands that warring parties and their supporters ensure that civilians are protected, regardless of their religion, community or ethnic affiliation,” a statement from the UN Secretary-General’s office said.
Both the Syrian government and armed groups have the legal obligation and moral responsibility to refrain from harming civilians, the statement said. They must do everything to avoid and prevent violence against civilians, including ending indiscriminate shelling and air attacks on civilian areas.
“The killing of an elderly priest, Father Frans van der Lugt, in Homs today is but the latest tragedy highlighting the urgent need to protect civilians,” said the statement. “The Secretary-General condemns this inhumane act of violence against a man who heroically stood by the people of Syria amid sieges and growing difficulties.”
The Secretary-General also expressed his grief in light of the attack on the Syrian town of Kessab. Gross human rights violations in Syria undeniably continue, the statement said, and residents of entire villages such as Kessab have been forced to flee. The Secretary-General said government forces continue to indiscriminately destroy whole neighborhoods and that, conversely, groups listed as terrorist organizations by the United Nations Security Council continue to brutalize the civilian population.
“There is a belief by too many in Syria and beyond that this conflict can be won militarily. More violence will only bring more suffering and instability to Syria and sow chaos in the region. The Secretary-General again urges all Syrians and their outside supporters to put a stop to this conflict, now. For the sake of families and communities across Syria, the Secretary-General appeals to all sides to permit immediately the unfettered access of humanitarian assistance and workers,” the statement urged.
“Under the Secretary-General’s leadership, the United Nations is prepared to contribute to a new day in Syria by fostering a political settlement, providing humanitarian assistance, and supporting reconstruction,” the statement concluded.