New York

12 March 2014

Statement Attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General -- on Syria

Three years ago, the Syrian people stood up in peaceful protest to demand their universal rights and freedoms. In response came brutal force, escalating bloodshed and the devastation of civil war. As the conflict now enters its fourth year, the Secretary-General appeals to all to reflect upon the long and growing list of horrors taking place in Syria every day.

Hundreds of thousands of lives have been lost or destroyed, with hundreds of people more killed every day; cities and villages have been reduced to rubble; extremists are imposing their radical ideologies; communities are threatened and attacked; millions have been forced to flee violence and deprivation; weapons are flowing in, adding fuel to the fire, and they are being used indiscriminately; acts of terrorism are a daily reality; grave crimes remain unpunished and thousands remain in captivity without due process; and the world’s cultural heritage is under grave threat. Over the past year, this conflict also saw the worst use of weapons of mass destruction in the 21st century.

Syria is now the biggest humanitarian and peace and security crisis facing the world, with violence reaching unthinkable levels. Syria’s neighbours are bearing the increasingly unbearable humanitarian, security, political and socio-economic effects of this conflict.

The Secretary-General deeply regrets the inability of the international community, the region and the Syrians themselves to put a stop to this appalling conflict. The Syrian people desperately need an end to violence and a clean break from the past to move towards a new Syria, where their legitimate aspirations are met and all communities are protected. The international community cannot afford to lose focus or look the other way. The effects and threats of this conflict will only grow and spread. However welcome the recent efforts to improve humanitarian access, so that aid can reach those desperately in need, only a political solution will end the nightmare of the Syrian people.

The Secretary-General appeals to the region and the international community and in particular to the Russian Federation and the United States, as the initiating States of the Geneva Conference on Syria, to take clear steps to reenergize the Geneva process. The Secretary-General strongly urges the Syrian Government and opposition to exercise responsibility, leadership, vision and flexibility to rise to the challenge. Working with Joint Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi, the Syrian sides and regional and international actors must act now to bring the tragedy in Syria to an end.