As ceasefire deadline nears, Ban renews demand on Syria to halt violence
“The Secretary-General strongly deplores today’s fatal cross-border shootings from Syria into Turkey, as well as into Lebanon,” his spokesperson said in a statement.
Mr. Ban spoke today with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who conveyed his authorities’ utmost concern over the recent developments.
According to media reports, Syrian forces opened fire across the Turkish border and at least two people have died and many others have been injured. In a separate incident, a Lebanese cameraman was reportedly shot dead on the Syria-Lebanon border.
Mr. Ban is “alarmed” by the reports of ongoing violence and human rights violations in Syria, which informed the Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the League of Arab States, Kofi Annan, last week that it will withdraw its troops from populated areas by 10 April.
The Joint Special Envoy has stated that, once that happens, all parties should move immediately to cease all forms of violence, so that a complete cessation is in place by 12 April.
“The Secretary-General reiterates his demand that the Government of Syria immediately cease all military actions against civilians and fulfil all of its commitments made through Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan,” said today’s statement. “The timeline for the complete cessation of violence endorsed by the Security Council must be respected by all without condition.”
The violence in Syria, which began in March 2011 as a protest movement similar to those witnessed across the Middle East and North Africa, has claimed over 8,000 lives, mostly civilians, and displaced tens of thousands.
Mr. Ban reiterated his appreciation to neighbouring countries for their hospitality for displaced Syrian nationals, and for keeping their borders open.
UN agencies have mobilized emergency assistance to help the arriving refugees, and the Secretary-General pledged the Organization’s readiness to provide further humanitarian assistance.