Damascus, March 16 : UN Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen has called for more international diplomacy to end the ongoing war, suggesting the need for a new format of international engagement and discussion.
“Yes, the Syrian parties must negotiate a settlement in a Syrian-led process and they need to show the political will to do so. But I am absolutely convinced that they will not progress far if a Syrian-led process is not supported by a constructive international diplomacy on Syria,” he told the Security Council in a briefing on Monday.
“After all, this is among the most deeply internationalised conflicts of a generation, with many of the issues that matter most to the Syrians not even in Syrian hands.”
The UN envoy’s remarks came as the crisis marked its 10th year on Monday.
According to the UN Refugee Agency, there are 6.2 million people, including 2.5 million children, displaced within Syria, the biggest internally displaced population in the World.
Briefing the Council on the atrocities inflicted on the people in the last 10 years, Pedersen said: “The Syrian tragedy will go down as one of the darkest chapters in recent history. The Syrian people are among the greatest victims of this century.
“They have been injured, maimed and killed in every way imaginable — their corpses even desecrated. They have been snatched from the streets, thrown into prisons or abducted, disappeared, mistreated, tortured, paraded in cages, and ransomed or exchanged in prisoner swap deals.”
The world has not succeeded in helping deliver the Syrians from what UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called “a living nightmare”, Pedersen noted.
“I express the profound regret of the UN that we have yet not been able to mediate an end to this tragic conflict.”
The unrest in Syria, which began on March 15, 2011 as part of the wider 2011 Arab Spring protests, grew out of discontent with the Syrian government and escalated to an armed conflict after protests calling for President Bashar al-Assad’s removal were violently suppressed.
A number of foreign countries, including Iran, Israel, Russia, Turkey, and the US, have either directly involved themselves in the conflict or provided support to one or another faction.
According to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), at 387,118 people have been killed as of December 2020, among them 116,911 civilians.
There were 205,300 people missing or presumed dead, including 88,000 civilians believed to have died of torture in government-run prisons.
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