UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called on the international community to provide more political attention and resources to the world body as it faces an overflowing plate of conflicts and disasters.
“The situations in Syria, South Sudan and the Central African Republic have gone from bad to worse,” he said in his first news conference of the new year Friday.
Ban highlighted not only the immediate need to end the fighting in those countries but also the larger imperatives of 2014 in the run-up to reaching the UN’s anti-poverty Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and achieving a global accord to counter climate change.
The year 2015 is the deadline for attaining both targets.
Ban stressed that the UN was doing its utmost to ease the suffering and provide life-saving aid in all three strife-torn countries, staying and delivering assistance wherever it could even as people continued to flee their homes and countries.
“These are avoidable tragedies in which millions of civilians are paying an unconscionable price,” he said.
“I am especially alarmed by the spread of sectarian animosity, and by the dangerous regional and global spillover effects. Years of development are at stake. A generation of young people is at risk.”
According to him, UN personnel were all showing tremendous courage and professionalism in all the three countries “but humanitarian assistance, vital as it is, can be only part of our response”.
“The international community must pull together to help these countries find the path of peace,” he added.
On Syria, Ban called for an immediate end to all violence, including the government’s use of barrel bombs and other heavy weapons that kill and maim indiscriminately.
“All parties must improve humanitarian access to people in besieged areas,” he stressed.
“The situation in Eastern Ghouta (near Damascus) is shocking: 160,000 people have gone without aid for more than a year. The United Nations is prepared to enter the area (for) assistance, but we need the full cooperation of the Syrian Government.”
He called for strengthening the African-led peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic (CAR), where thousands of people are estimated to have been killed, nearly one million driven away from their homes, and 2.2 million, or about half the population, need humanitarian aid.
Turning to other current and former world hotspots, he pledged UN support for the people of Afghanistan at a time of transition with the withdrawal of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) by the end of the year.
He also called on Israelis and Palestinians to “make decisive progress in resolving their conflict and drawing back from a perilous status quo”