UN chief Ban decries ‘unrelenting horrors’ in Syria


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 - Page 1

Denouncing “unrelenting horrors” in Syria, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appealed yesterday for an end to the violence and more aid to address a situation he said is catastrophic and worsening by the day.

“How many more people will be killed if the current situation continues?” Ban said, addressing a donors conference in Kuwait aimed at raising money for UN humanitarian work. “I appeal to all sides, and particularly the Syrian government, to stop the killing ... in the name of humanity, stop the killing, stop the violence.”

More than 60,000 people have been killed since Syria’s 22-month-old conflict began, the UN says.

An official of the Gulf Cooperation Council, a grouping of six Gulf Arab states, said a total of US$1 billion had been pledged by midday, after promises of US$300 million each from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

The UN warned on Monday that without more money it would not be able to help millions of Syrians and appealed for donations at the aid conference to meet its US$1.5 billion target.

Four million Syrians inside the country need food, shelter and other aid, while more than 700,000 more are estimated to have fled to countries nearby.

King Abdullah II of Jordan told the gathering that Syrians had taken refuge in his country in their hundreds of thousands, but Amman’s ability to help was at its limits.

“We have reached the end of the line, we have exhausted our resources,” he said.

UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos said that agriculture was in crisis, hospitals and ambulances had been damaged, and painkillers were unavailable. Harsh weather had made matters worse, and people lack winter clothes, blankets and fuel, with women and children particularly at risk, she said.

“We are watching a human tragedy unfold before our eyes,” she said.