The browser or device you are using is out of date. It has known security flaws and a limited feature set. You will not see all the features of some websites. Please update your browser. A list of the most popular browsers can be found below.
The inclusion of women in peace talks is not just essential to building sustainable peace based on the needs and concerns of all Syrians. It is a basic democratic right and essential for lasting peace. By including the perspectives of half the population, the path is paved for a society built on the principles of inclusion and justice.
In our close work with Syrian women, we have heard their repeated calls to be included in the delegations and negotiations, and I would like to commend your efforts in this regard as well.
Of course, the needs are enormous, and we must do more as UN Women, and the UN system as a whole, to support Syrian women.
Makeshift clinics have proliferated in the rebel-held north, but shifting battle lines have made it harder to keep them hidden from government forces or separated from rebel operations, said Syrian doctors and international medical groups.
Five of the six field clinics in the north were hit by government airstrikes this fall, doctors at three of the hospitals said.
The al-Bab Hospital, which sits in a town in Aleppo province now controlled by al Qaeda-linked rebels, has been bombed five times, medics at the hospital said. Its medical staff has relocated from one building to another so many times they now keep much of their equipment in ready-to-move boxes.
Some 50 international doctors, including the heads of global medical bodies, warned that Syria's health services were at "a breaking point," in a letter published in the medical journal The Lancet in September. The war, doctors said, is restricting medical care for millions of Syrians on all sides.
"Systematic assaults on medical professionals, facilities, and patients are breaking Syria's health care system and making it nearly impossible for civilians to receive essential medical services," the letter said.
Syrian Kurds are demanding their own delegation separate from both the government and opposition at next month's peace talks in Switzerland aimed at halting the conflict in Syria, Kurdish political leaders said on Thursday.
The Kurds say they need independent representation because their demands in negotiations over Syria's future are distinct from those of the government or the opposition Syrian National Coalition that seeks to end President Bashar al-Assad's rule.
"The Coalition are no different from Assad's Baath party rule when it comes to their position on the Kurds. They do not recognize the rights of Kurds to live on their land with recognition of their basic rights, including the right to administer their own region," said Abdelsalam Ahmed, a leading figure in the Democratic Union Party (PYD).
Syrian activists and other citizens have vanished into secret detention as part of a "widespread campaign of terror against the civilian population" by the Damascus government, U.N. investigators said on Thursday.
The state-run practice of enforced disappearances in Syria - abductions that are officially denied - is systematic enough to amount to a crime of humanity, they said in a report.
Some armed groups in northern Syria, especially the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), have also begun to abduct people into incommunicado detention and denied their captivity, tantamount to the crime of enforced disappearances, it said.
ISIL has also sought ransoms or prisoner exchanges, which constitute separate war crimes, it added.
The internal armed conflict between government forces and the opposition, composed of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and other armed opposition groups, was marked by gross human rights abuses, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Government forces, which were responsible for the vast majority of violations, carried out indiscriminate attacks on residential areas using aircraft, artillery shells, mortars, incendiary weapons and cluster bombs. Together with their support militias, they arrested thousands of people, including children, subjecting many to enforced disappearance.Torture and other ill-treatment of detainees were commonplace; at least 550 were reported to have died in custody, many after torture. Others were extrajudicially executed. Security forces’ snipers continued to shoot peaceful anti-government demonstrators and people attending public funerals. Health workers treating the wounded were targeted. A climate of impunity reigned both for past and ongoing gross human rights violations. Armed groups fighting against the government also committed gross abuses, including war crimes.They tortured and/or summarily killed government soldiers and militia members after taking them prisoner and carried out indiscriminate bombings that killed or injured civilians. Hundreds of thousands of people were forced to flee their homes; the UN estimated that over 2 million people were internally displaced and living under conditions of extreme hardship within Syria, and that since the beginning of the conflict almost 600,000 had fled as refugees to neighbouring countries, where conditions were often harsh. It was not possible to confirm whether any death sentences were imposed or if executions were carried out.
Syria's Ministry of Health excluded the predominately rebel-held province eastern province of Deir Ezzor — where polio broke out this year — from a 2012 vaccination campaign, insisting that most residents had fled the violence and outbreak of disease, Reuters reported Tuesday.
Hundreds of thousands of people remain, however, and at least 15 children have contracted polio, the World Health Organization announced in November. Public health experts and local doctors say the government’s failure to vaccinate citizens in the province contributed to polio's reemergence there.Polio — a highly infectious, incurable virus that causes paralysis in severe cases — has been eradicated in most parts of the world with the advent of a polio vaccine. Yet Syria is experiencing its first outbreak of the disease since 1999. Cases have also been recorded in Aleppo and on the outskirts of Damascus.
We are all now acutely aware that chemical weapons were used not only in the appalling August attack in the Ghouta area of Damascus, but also on several other occasions, including on a small scale, against civilians and military targets.
This new and broader knowledge should be of deep concern to all of us. Any use of chemical weapons, by anyone, under any circumstances, is a grave violation of the 1925 Protocol and other relevant rules of customary international law. The use of chemical weapons in Syria was a deplorable offense against the universal values of humankind.
Those responsible must be held accountable. The Security Council has said repeatedly that the use of weapons of mass destruction is a serious threat to international [peace] and security, and thus the Council has a primary role in bringing perpetrators to justice.
We must also do our utmost to deter future incidents, in Syria or elsewhere. I continue to urge all States that have not yet done so to sign, ratify and accede to the Chemical Weapons Convention without delay.
It is a 15-minute drive from the five-star hotel that houses U.N. aid staff in Damascus to rebel-held suburbs where freezing children are starving to death.
Yet it is months since convoys from the United Nations and other agencies have delivered food or medical care to many such areas - prevented by a Syrian government accused of using hunger as a weapon of war against its people.
As the United Nations launched an annual appeal on Monday to help 16 million people affected Syria's civil war, divisions among world powers that have crippled peacemaking are also denying U.N. staff the power to defy President Bashar al-Assad's officials and push into neighborhoods now under siege.
"In government-controlled parts of Syria, what, where and to whom to distribute aid, and even staff recruitment, have to be negotiated and are sometimes dictated," said Ben Parker, who ran the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Syria for a year until last February.
"According to the Syrian government's official position, humanitarian agencies and supplies are allowed to go anywhere, even across any frontline," he wrote last month in the journal Humanitarian Exchange. "But every action requires time-consuming permissions, which effectively provide multiple veto opportunities." Fighting and rebel groups are also obstacles.
Faced with the prospect of a worsening situation inside Syria and growing numbers of refugees in 2014, UN agencies on Monday appealed to donors for US$6.5 billion in funds – the biggest amount so far requested for a single humanitarian emergency.
The response plans for 2014 were presented to donors today in Geneva on behalf of UN agencies, including UNHCR, and non-governmental organizations by the Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos and UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres. The two organizations they represent lead the multi-agency international humanitarian responses under way inside Syria and in the surrounding region.
"As we look towards the fourth year of this appalling crisis, we see that nearly three-quarters of Syrians will need humanitarian aid in 2014. With the help of the international community, the United Nations, Red Crescent and partner NGOs will continue to deliver vital aid and seek protection for the ordinary men women and children caught up in the conflict," said Valerie Amos.
Monday's appeal is based on projections of continuing humanitarian needs and large-scale displacement both inside Syria and into neighbouring countries during the coming year. Some US$2.3 billion of the US$6.5 billion total is for the OCHA-led Syria Humanitarian Assistance Response Plan for people inside Syria.
The remaining US$4.2 billion is for the UNHCR-led Regional Response Plan 6, which helps refugees and host communities in neighbouring countries. The 2014 appeals represent the support plans of more than 100 partner organizations – UN agencies, national and international NGOs – who are working together to address the needs of Syrians.
"We're facing a terrifying situation here where, by the end of 2014, substantially more of the population of Syria could be displaced or in need of humanitarian help than not," said High Commissioner Guterres. "This goes beyond anything we have seen in many, many years, and makes the need for a political solution all the greater."
He added, "For now it remains of live-saving importance that the international humanitarian response is supported. Massive international solidarity is crucial, not only to support suffering Syrians, but also for the countries that have so generously taken in refugees. The Syria crisis is having a dramatic impact on their economies, societies and even on their security."
More than 2.3 million people have fled Syria since the beginning of the conflict in March 2011, in one of the largest refugee exoduses in recent history. Support for the surrounding countries includes help for refugee-hosting communities in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, which provide Syrians with basic shelter, protection and other essential support.
Amos emphasized the fact that to end the suffering altogether Syrians need a political solution. "As humanitarians, our focus must be on continuing to do everything we can to reach people with life-saving and life-sustaining aid. This includes mobilizing funding and urging the commitment of all who have influence over the parties who perpetuate this conflict, to ensuring the flow of aid and to protecting civilians," she said.
Syrian rebel leaders said they would do all they could to protect journalists but were hampered by infighting, after international news organizations complained kidnappings were preventing full media coverage of the civil war.In a letter over the weekend, the western-backed Supreme Military Council (SMC), which is in charge of the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA), said it would seek to free all journalists who have been abducted.At least 30 journalists are estimated by media organizations to be being held.The SMC is the main body representing moderate rebel fighters but it has no sway over extremist groups suspected of carrying out abductions."It is imperative that we reiterate that the FSA, along with all of its units and brigades, will do its utmost to protect and support journalists in order that they can fulfill their vital work," a letter from the SMC said.
The Final Report by the United Nations Mission to Investigate Allegations of the Use of Chemical Weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic has been turned over today, Thursday, 12 December, to the Secretary-General by Professor Åke Sellström, the Head of the Mission.
On Friday, 13 December, the Secretary-General will brief the General Assembly on the report in a closed session at 3:00 pm.
Following that briefing, at 4:30 pm, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Ms. Angela Kane; Head of the United Nations Mission; Professor Sellström; and the team leaders, Mr. Scott Cairns from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and Dr. Maurizio Barbeschi from the World Health Organization, will brief the press.
The Secretary-General will brief the Security Council on the report on Monday, 16 December 2013.
A blustery storm dropped torrential rain and snow on Lebanon and Jordan on Wednesday, as aid agencies scrambled to distribute desperately needed winter supplies like blankets and plastic tarps to Syrian refugees who have sought safe haven in the countries.
Temperatures dropped below freezing in northern Lebanon and some areas of the Bekaa Valley, which is dotted with informal refugee settlements made largely from tents not built to withstand the harsh weather.
The winter weather heaped another layer of misery on the already grim existence of many of the estimated 1.4 million Syrians in Lebanon who fled the civil war raging in their homeland.
"We are extremely concerned for the refugees this winter that promises to be very harsh," Dana Sleiman of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees told The Associated Press.Read more at Al Jazeera America