UN-Arab League envoy awaiting Syrian response on proposals to end crisis

UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan during talks on the situation in Syria. Photo: Office of the Prime Minister, Republic of Turkey

13 March 2012 – The Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the League of Arab States for Syria, Kofi Annan, said he expects to hear back from Syrian authorities today on the proposals he put forward during his recent meetings in Damascus on ending the ongoing crisis in the country.

“I’m expecting to hear from the Syrian authorities today since I left concrete proposals with them to consider, and once I receive their answer we will know how to react,” Mr. Annan said in a statement.

Mr. Annan is currently in Ankara, Turkey, where he is meeting with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to discuss the situation in Syria, following his weekend visit to Damascus, where he met with President Bashar al-Assad.

“The Syrian people have gone through lot, they deserve better. I have made it clear at the beginning of my mission that my main preoccupation is the welfare of the Syrian people and the Syrian nation,” Mr. Annan said.

“We should put the interests of the people at the centre of everything that we do, and I know that the strong international community support, the whole world is coming together, is working with us to resolve this situation in Syria, and with goodwill and determination I am hopeful we will make progress,” he added.

Mr. Annan also met today with Burhan Ghalioun of the Syrian National Council. “We had constructive discussion as to my approach and how the future development of the process would be, and they have also promised their full cooperation which will be necessary if we are to succeed,” he said.

Meanwhile, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that some 30,000 Syrians have fled to Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, while a significant number of people are thought to be internally displaced.

UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards told reporters in Geneva that with the number of refugees rising, the agency is working to provide shelter, food, and other basic services such as education and health care.

Yesterday, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos expressed her concern over those who have been displaced by the violence, adding that they must be provided adequate services to avoid a grave humanitarian crisis.

“I am extremely concerned as to the whereabouts of the people who have been displaced from Baba Amr by the shelling and other violence,” said Ms. Amos, who saw first-hand the devastation in the country during her two-day visit last week.

“I was told that some fifty to sixty thousand people used to live in the area. We need to know what has happened to them, where they are now and what they need. We also need to know where the wounded are and whether they are receiving treatment.”

During her visit, Ms. Amos, who is also UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, met with the Syrian Foreign Minister, the Deputy Foreign Minister, and the Ministers for Health and Education, among other officials.

Her visit was intended to seek an agreement that would allow humanitarian organizations to reach people in the areas that have been most affected by intense fighting and violence.

“The Government of Syria has said they need more time to consider my proposals and they themselves proposed a joint and initial humanitarian assessment exercise to take place towards the end of this week,” Ms. Amos told reporters in New York yesterday. “This is a minimal start. We need much, much more,” she added.

Ms. Amos stressed that an arrangement that gives unhindered access and time to humanitarian organizations to assess the needs of the population is vital so the wounded can be evacuated and desperately needed supplies can be delivered.


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