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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

UN Headquarters

19 April 2012

Opening remarks to the press after briefing the Security Council

Good morning ladies and gentlemen. It is a great pleasure to see you

I returned from Europe yesterday and this morning I wanted to take a little time to update you on recent developments in Syria and the Sudan and South Sudan.

On Syria: the situation remains highly precarious. Despite the government’s agreement to cease all violence, we still see deeply troubling evidence that it continues. The past few days, in particular, have brought reports of renewed and escalating violence, including the shelling of civilian areas, grave abuses by Government forces and attacks by armed groups.

Last night, I provided the Security Council with my assessment of these latest developments, as well as an update on the deployment of the advance team of UN military observers. I have recommended that the Council authorize the establishment of a United Nations supervision mission in Syria, comprising up to 300 military observers supported by a civilian component.

I look forward to the Council’s early action.

This is not a decision without risk. But I believe it can contribute to achieving a just peace and political settlement, reflecting the people’s will in Syria.

A supervision mission with a clear mandate and the required capacities under the right conditions would contribute to improving the situation on the ground. It would help advance a cessation of armed violence in all its forms and set the stage for the implementation of the six-point plan in its entirety.

Today in Damascus, the United Nations and the Syrian Government formally agreed to a preliminary protocol outlining the functions of the observer mission and the tasks and responsibilities of the Syrian Government in this regard.

For the mission to succeed, we require the Syrian Government’s full cooperation, particularly in ensuring the full freedom of movement and unfettered access and safety and security of personnel, as well as the use of key enabling assets such as helicopters and other transportation.

Again, I emphasize the Government of Syria’s responsibility to make this happen.

This morning I met the Ambassador Ja’afari, Permanent Representative of Syria and I strongly underscored this message.

I also want to highlight the increasingly difficult humanitarian situation within Syria and along its borders. Approximately 230,000 people, if not more, have been displaced. An estimated one million people are in need.

Despite assurances from the Government, there has been no meaningful progress on the ground.

This is unacceptable. I call on the Syrian authorities to recognize the full urgency of the situation and permit UN agencies and international relief organizations to organize a major humanitarian field operation to help those people in need.

This will be the focus of tomorrow’s Syria Humanitarian Forum in Geneva.

Finally, the situation in Sudan and South Sudan:

The last thing the people of these two countries need is another war — a war that could claim countless lives, destroy hope and ruin the prospects of peace and stability and prosperity of all Sudanese people.

I urge both sides to exercise maximum restraint, return to the negotiation table and resolve their differences.

I call on South Sudan to immediately withdraw its forces from Heglig. This is an infringement on the sovereignty of Sudan and a clearly illegal act.

I also call on the Government of Sudan to immediately stop shelling and bombing South Sudanese territory and withdraw its forces from disputed territories, in particular Abyei.

Both must stop supporting proxy forces against each other

Again, this is not the time for war. This is a time for leadership, for engagement, for negotiation — in the name of humanity, and in the interests of the people of both countries and the region.

Along with regional and many international leaders, I have impressed on both governments the necessity of ending the fighting and returning to negotiations. They have yet to heed our call.

We shall continue our efforts and stand ready to help both parties. Those countries that have influence on the two governments must step up their efforts at this critical moment.

Thank you.