UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday said he was worried that Syrian government forces were arbitrarily executing, imprisoning and torturing people in the battle-scarred city of Homs.
“A major assault on Homs took place yesterday,” Ban told the 193-nation U.N. General Assembly. “Civilian losses have clearly been heavy. We continue to receive grisly reports of summary executions, arbitrary detentions and torture.”
“In Homs, Hama and elsewhere, the brutal fighting has trapped civilians in their homes, without food, heat or electricity or medical care; without any chance of evacuating the wounded or burying the dead. People have been reduced to melting snow for drinking water.”
The UN chief expressed his extreme disappointment “that the U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator, Ms. Valerie Amos, has not been able to travel to Syria despite repeated assurances.” He urged the Syrian authorities to allow her to visit, as soon as possible, so that humanitarian relief workers can reach the many thousands of people who desperately need assistance.
Ki-moon said that the joint U.N.-Arab League Special Envoy, Kofi Annan, will travel to Cairo next week “for consultations with the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States and to a number of other regional capitals, including Damascus.”
“The Syrian Government has failed to deliver on its responsibility to protect its people. Civilian populations are under military assault in several cities,” said the U.N. chief, pointing out that about 25,000 Syrian refugees have been registered with UNHCR in neighboring countries; and between 100,000 and 200,000 people were internally displaced.
He called on the Syrian Government to “immediately put an end to all human rights violations and attacks against civilians, protect its population and fully comply with its obligations under applicable international law.”
On his part Syria’s ambassador to the U.N. Bashar al-Jaafari criticized the U.N. chief’s report and said that it would further complicate the situation in Syria.
“The UN chief has based his report on the testimony of Syrians who hate their country,” he said, pointing out that the claim that the Syrian government has failed to protect its people is fake.
Jaafari pointed out that his country is fighting al-Qaeda operatives in Homs. “Al-Qaeda operatives have been killed in Homs. Is it legal that all opposition groups should be armed?”
Jaafari added that Ban Ki-moon’s speech would be interpreted as being a cover to the armed groups in Syria.
Syria’s ambassador to the U.N. accused some Arab as well as regional and international countries of working hard to support the Syrian opposition.
Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the U.N. Abdullah al-Muallemy urged the Security Council to play a legislative role in Syria and said that the Gulf Cooperation Council states are ready to exert their utmost efforts for helping the Syrian people.