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Syria: Ban voices concern over shelling of Homs, urges adherence to ceasefire

The city of Homs in Syria has been extensively damaged by government shelling.
OCHA/Jutta Hinkannen
The city of Homs in Syria has been extensively damaged by government shelling.

Syria: Ban voices concern over shelling of Homs, urges adherence to ceasefire

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today voiced serious concern over the shelling of the Syrian city of Homs during the weekend and once again demanded that all parties abide by the cessation of violence deal.

“I am very much concerned about what has happened since yesterday and today. The Syrian Government has been shelling the city of Homs, and as well, we have seen already some casualties and populations killed,” Mr. Ban told a joint news conference with Belgian Prime Minister, Elio Di Rupo, in Brussels.

“I urge again in the strongest possible terms, that this cessation of violence must be kept,” he said.

He said he expected that the next step after the cessation of violence in Syria will be the start of political dialogue that will lead to a peace resolution of the crisis. “That should be Syrian-led and the United Nations will continue to mobilize humanitarian assistance and resources,” said Mr. Ban.

He said a Syrian Humanitarian Forum will be held in Geneva on Friday and urged the international community to contribute generously in support of the Syrian people who are in need of relief.

Yesterday, the Security Council authorized the sending of an advance team of up to 30 unarmed military observers to Syria to report on the implementation of a full cessation of armed violence, pending the deployment of a United Nations supervision mission that will be tasked with monitoring the ceasefire.

In a resolution adopted unanimously, the Council called on all parties to guarantee the safety of the advance team and ensure its freedom of movement and access, stressing that the primary responsibility for carrying out those requirements lay with the Syrian authorities.

Mr. Ban said his discussions with Mr. Di Rupo today ranged from the situations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Afghanistan, to sustainable development, including climate change, as well as global health, gender empowerment and healthy oceans.

Responding to a question on Iran's nuclear issue, Mr. Ban said the onus is on the Iranian authorities to prove that their nuclear development programme is “genuinely for peaceful purposes.”

“They have not yet done so. But at the same time they should be able to convince the international community and resolve these issues through negotiations,” he added.

Separately, Mr. Ban had a telephone conversation with the Foreign Affairs Minister of Portugal Paulo Portas and thanked him for a briefing about the situation in Guinea-Bissau.

Mr. Ban and the Security Council on Friday condemned the military coup in Guinea-Bissau and demanded the immediate restoration of constitutional order.

The Secretary-General said he is in close contact with his Special Representative for Guinea-Bissau, Joseph Mutaboba, who is advising him on the situation there.

He told Mr. Portas that he will continue to mobilize political pressure for a solution that restores stability and political order in Guinea-Bissau.