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    UN chief urges ‘genuine, credible’ political solution in Syria, as conflict approaches thirteenth anniversary

    March marks the thirteenth anniversary of the conflict in Syria, with systematic atrocities and untold suffering of civilians.

    According to UN estimates, 16.7 million people, equivalent to 70 per cent of the total population, will require humanitarian assistance in 2024. Roughly half the pre-war population remains displaced inside or outside Syria.

    Compounding the crisis, a series of earthquakes struck the country’s north in February last year, claiming nearly 5,900 lives, severely damaging infrastructure, and exacerbating the vulnerability of millions already struggling to meet their basic needs.

    Entire communities are struggling to survive, as humanitarian funding has dropped to an all-time low. In 2023, for instance, only $2.02 billion or 37.4 per cent – was received against the $5.41 billion required for UN-led humanitarian efforts.

    ‘Do all that is necessary’

    In a statement, Secretary-General António Guterres urged all stakeholders to “do all that is necessary to reach a genuine and credible political solution”.

    A solution that meets the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people, restores the country’s sovereignty, unity, independence, and territorial integrity, in accordance with Security Council resolution 2254 (2015) and create the conditions necessary for the voluntary return of refugees in safety and dignity, he said.

    Protect civilians

    “We need civilians and civilian infrastructure to be protected,” the UN chief emphasized.

    Alongside, he also called for a strategic approach to countering terrorism, in line with international law; sustained and unhindered humanitarian access throughout Syria; and urgent and adequate funding to sustain critical aid operations.

    “It is long past time for key parties to step up and meet these needs. An entire generation of Syrians has already paid too high a price,” he added.

    End impunity

    Mr. Guterres also highlighted that arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, sexual and gender-based violence, torture, and other violations continue and pose an obstacle to sustainable peace in Syria.

    “We all have a responsibility to end impunity,” he said.

    “Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Syrian victims, survivors and their family members count on it.”

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