Stop ‘hell on earth,’ UN’s Guterres says

FED UP::The head of the UN and its rights council chief had tough words about the killing in Syria and veto power of some Security Council members

AFP, GENEVA, Switzerland

Tue, Feb 27, 2018 - Page 6

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres yesterday demanded the immediate implementation of 30-day ceasefire in Syria as the Damascus regime continued its deadly bombardment of the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta.

Guterres praised the adoption of a UN Security Council resolution on Saturday calling for the truce, but said “Security Council resolutions are only meaningful if they are effectively implemented.”

“That is why I expect the resolution to be immediately implemented and sustained,” he told the opening of the 37th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.

It is “high time to stop this hell on earth” in the Eastern Ghouta region, Guterres said.

Addressing the rights council after Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said that Syria — and other conflict zones — had “become some of the most prolific slaughterhouses of humans in recent times.”

On the proposed Syria truce, Zeid said that “we have every reason to remain cautious.”

The resolution “must be viewed against a backdrop of seven years of failure to stop the violence, seven years of unremitting and frightful mass killing.”

Fresh bombardment by the Syrian regime yesterday killed at least 10 civilians in Eastern Ghouta, including nine members of one family, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor group said.

Air strikes destroyed a building in Douma and buried alive an entire family, the Observatory said.

Zeid has repeatedly chastised the Security Council throughout the Syrian conflict for failing to refer the case to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Zeid yesterday blasted veto-wielding members for the Security Council’s intransigence on Syria and other conflicts, saying they bore “responsibility for the continuation of so much pain.”

“It is time, for the love of mercy, that China, Russia and the United States ... end the pernicious use of the veto,” he said.

Meanwhile, in Brussels, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherin demanded that the ceasefire be implemented “immediately.”

“Now that resoution needs to be immediately implemented, to have monitoring mechanisms,” she said as she arrived for a meeting of EU foreign ministers.

Luxembourg Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean Asselborn said the situation in Ghouta was a “disgrace,” describing it as like the “Middle Ages.”

In other developments, Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov yesterday said the allegations that forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad were to blame for a chlorine attack in Eastern Ghouta were a provocation aimed at sabotaging a ceasefire in the enclave.

The ceasefire for agreed to by the Security Council would take effect once all sides had agreed how it should be implemented, RIA news agency quoted him as saying.

However, al-Nusra militants in Eastern Ghouta and Idlib are not covered by the ceasefire, the Interfax agency quoted him as saying.

Additional reporting by Reuters and AP