'Time For UN Security Council to Work to End Syrian Conflict'

Yoshita Singh/ New York
'Time For UN Security Council to Work to End Syrian Conflict'
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-0001-11-30T00:00:00+0553

Actress Angelina Jolie Pitt has strongly criticised the UN Security Council for its lack on unity and political will on resolving the Syrian crisis, stating that the powerful body has the power to address the dire situation but "those powers lie unused".

Jolie Pitt, appointed in 2012 as Special Envoy of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, spoke at the 15-nation Council on the humanitarian situation in Syria here yesterday, recounting stories of several Syrian families impacted by the five-year conflict, during which 220,000 people have been killed, more than one million injured, 7.6 million displaced and four million people seeking refuge in neighbouring countries.

The Special envoy for refugee issues said made an appeal to the Security Council on behalf of the Syrian refugees, saying the UN body should unite and work towards ending the conflict.

"It is time for the Security Council to work as one to end the conflict, and reach a settlement that also brings justice and accountability for the Syrian people," she said adding that the Security Council has powers to address issues of threats to international peace and security "but those powers lie unused".

She asked the Foreign Ministers of all the Security Council Members to work on a "political solution for Syria as a matter of urgency".

The crisis in Syria "illustrates that our inability to find diplomatic solutions causes mass displacement, and traps millions of people in exile, statelessness, and displacement," she said.

She pointed out that the problem is not lack of information as the international community knows the "excruciating detail" about what is happening in Yarmouk, Aleppo and Homs.

"The problem is lack of political will. We cannot look at Syria, and the evil that has arisen from the ashes of indecision, and think this is not the lowest point in the world's inability to protect and defend the innocent," she said.

Jolie Pitt said the Syrian crisis is made worse by division and indecision within the international community – preventing the Security Council from fulfilling its responsibilities.

"The UN has adopted the Responsibility to Protect concept, saying that when a state cannot protect its people the international community will not stand by – but we are standing by, in Syria," she said.

She further asked the Security Council to visit Syrian refugees and see first hand their suffering and the impact it is having on the region.

"Those refugees cannot come to this Council, so please, will you go to them," she said.

On the issue of providing safe havens to the Syrian refugees, Jolie-Pitt said it is "sickening" to see thousands of refugees drowning on the "doorstep of the world's wealthiest continent".

"No one risks the lives of their children in this way except out of utter desperation. If we cannot end the conflict, we have an inescapable moral duty to help refugees and provide legal avenues to safety," the Academy award winning actress said.

She also sought a greater response from the international community to end the "barbarism" of those inflicting systematic sexual violence on the Syrians.

"We need to send a signal that we are serious about accountability for these crimes, for that is the only hope of establishing any deterrence," she said adding that Syrian women should also be fully represented in future peace negotiations.

Jolie Pitt has made 11 field visits to Syrian refugees in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Malta since the conflict began in 2011.

Addressing the 15-member body, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos said it is alarming that "people have become numb to figures that should, every day, shock our collective conscience".

"The people of Syria want an end to the war that has "destroyed their country and ravaged their lives…Stop the violations of international law, protect civilians and ensure humanitarian access," she added.

"The failure to stop the violence has undermined the credibility of this council and eroded confidence in the international community to take its responsibilities seriously," she said.

The Security Council adopted a presidential statement on the issue, demanding that all parties to the Syrian domestic conflict immediately put an end to all forms of violence.

The Council expressed alarm that the Syrian crisis has become the largest humanitarian emergency crisis in the world today, threatening peace and security in the region with diverse implications on the neighbouring countries and the displacement of millions.

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