Gerard Araud: UN
Security Council Ends Syria Observer Mission
August 16, 2012
A day after a bombing near the U.N. observer headquarters in Damascus,
the United Nations Security Council decided to end the U.N. monitoring
mission in Syria when its mandate expires on Sunday.
“The mandate of UNSMIS is over,” French U.N. Ambassador Gerard Araud
told reporters after the decision. The U.N. envoy from Russia, a chief
Syria ally, said the Kremlin regrets the decision and will continue to
push for a diplomatic solution to the near 18-month-long uprising in
Thursday's Security Council session follows a Syrian warplane attack on
Wednesday in the rebel-controlled northern town of Azaz, where more than
40 civilians were reported killed and more than 100 others wounded.
VOA correspondent Scott Bobb was in Azaz during the aerial attack and
saw many casualties. Hospitals in nearby Turkey were overwhelmed by
wounded Syrians, many of whom had lost limbs.
Human Rights Watch monitors visiting Azaz Thursday said the attack
leveled a block of houses. They said Syrian government forces may have
been targeting two nearby facilities of the rebel Free Syrian Army.
"This horrific attack killed and wounded scores of civilians and
destroyed a whole residential block," the group's acting emergencies
director, Anna Neistat, said. "Yet again, Syrian government forces
attacked with callous disregard for civilian life."
U.N. seeks more funding
The U.N. humanitarian chief, Valerie Amos, is calling for more funding
to help as many as 2.5 million people in need of aid in the
Amos told reporters in the Syrian capital Thursday that fighting in the
nearly 18-month uprising against President Bashar al-Assad has become
more intense. She said the humanitarian situation in Syria has worsened
since she last visited in March.
"Over a million people have been uprooted and face destitution," Amos
said in Damascus. "Perhaps a million more have urgent humanitarian needs
due to the widening impact of the crisis on the economy and on people's
livelihoods. Back in March, we estimated that a million people were in
need of help. Now as many as 2.5 million are in need of assistance, and
we are working to update our plans and our funding requirements."
Amos said the aid that the U.N. and its partners are currently providing
only partially meets the nation's needs. She appealed to the
international community to "contribute more generously" and said she
will continue to urge the Syrian government to ease restrictions on aid
"I continue to lobby the government to be more flexible in its approach
to humanitarian operations," she said. "There is no reason why ordinary
Syrians - men, women and children - should not receive as much help as
is practically possible."
U.N. investigators said Wednesday the Syrian government and their
militia allies have committed war crimes that include the killing and
torturing of civilians.
The investigators said rebel forces have also committed war crimes, but
that these crimes "did not reach the gravity, frequency and scale" of
those committed by the government.'
Assad losing support
Meanwhile, the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on
Thursday suspended Syria's membership because of the government's
crackdown on dissent and opposition rebels.
The French news agency says the bloc expressed "deep concern at the
massacres and inhuman acts suffered by the Syrian people."
The United States commended the OIC for the suspension. In a statement
after the move, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the
decision sends a "strong message" to President Assad's government.
"Today's action underscores the Assad regime's international isolation
and the widespread support for the Syrian people and their struggle for
a democratic state that represents their aspirations and respects their
human rights," she said.
The Syrian government continues to rely on allies Russia and China to
blunt growing international calls for Assad to resign.
envoy Bouthaina Shaaban has praised China and Russia for their response
to the crisis in Syria, saying that unlike the West, those countries are
not acting like "colonizers."
"We're happy to see countries like China and Russia, who are not
colonizers or deal with people as colonizers,'' Shaaban said in an
interview. She called that "a very different stance from the West."
Shaaban's comments appeared Thursday in the state-run China Daily
newspaper. The adviser to Assad is due to meet with Chinese Foreign
Minister Yang Jiechi.
China and Russia have both vetoed three U.N. Security Council
resolutions threatening Syria with sanctions for using heavy weapons
Syrian activists say more than 20,000 people have been killed since the
start of the uprising in March of last year.