21 January 2013 United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Joint Special Representative of the world organization and the League of Arab States for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, met in New York today for intensive discussions on ending the mounting toll and humanitarian anguish in Syria.
Both expressed deep disappointment at the appalling levels of killing and destruction carried out by both the Government and the opposition, fuelled by outside powers providing weaponry to both sides, according to information from Mr. Ban’s spokesperson.
They also expressed their concern over the lack of a unified international posture that could lead to a political transition as agreed at Geneva last June and put an end to the desperate suffering of the Syrian people.
More than 60,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Syria and hundreds of thousands more have been displaced since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began in early 2011.
Recent months have witnessed an escalation in the conflict, which is now in its 23rd month and has left more than 2.5 million people in need of humanitarian assistance.
Today’s discussions, at which senior UN officials were present, covered the diplomatic track, the security and human rights situation, and the forthcoming humanitarian pledging conference in Kuwait.
Also discussed were the positions of many of the key players inside Syria, the region, and the international community, the spokesperson said.
Meanwhile in Syria today, according to the spokesperson, a team from seven United Nations humanitarian agencies, led by John Ging, Operations Director of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), expressed shock over what they saw in the cities of Homs and Talbiseh, the latter of which has been battered by more than twenty months of violence.
The visit of the delegation, which is in Syria to assess humanitarian needs and identify ways to increase aid access, was coordinated with both the Government and the opposition.
The delegation met with people in dire need of food, healthcare and access to clean water, including children who urgently need psychosocial support and access to school.
Mr. Ging said he was "encouraged that the delegation was able to cross the conflict lines, which demonstrates that, where there is political will, there is a way to ensure that international humanitarian law and humanitarian principles are upheld, even during such intense conflict."
However, he also emphasized that "the humanitarian needs are enormous” and that we must find ways to immediately increase the scale of operations, the spokesman said.