With the world focused on the possible use of chemical weapons in Syria, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi reiterated to leaders attending the St. Petersburg for the Group of 20 (G20) summit the need to “push even harder” for a political solution to end the bloodshed in the war-torn Middle Eastern country.
Addressing world leaders at a working dinner, Mr. Ban urged the leaders of the Permanent Five members of the Security Council – China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and United States – as well as from some of the Council’s non-permanent members to “discharge their responsibility fully and for the sake of the people of Syria.”
He also reminded the Council members that they have a “collective responsibility to mankind” to act, but reiterated that as they debate courses of action, any decision “should be taken within the framework of the UN Charter, as a matter of principle.”
Highlighting the human toll of the conflict, Mr. Ban reiterated that more than 100,000 people have died, 4.25 million people have been displaced within the country, and at least another two million are now refugees.
He urgently asked the leaders gathered to fill the nearly $4.4 billion gap for humanitarian and refugee efforts in Syria and neighbouring countries – particularly Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey – as well as in North African. All of which had been “generous in hosting Syrian refugees.”
Mr. Brahimi, the Joint Special Representative of the UN and the League of Arab States for Syrian, arrived in the Russian city earlier today at Mr. Ban’s request.
The UN chief said that he had asked Mr. Brahimi to join him in St. Petersburg to press for the early convening of an international meeting on Syria to be held in Geneva with participation of senior Russian, United States and UN officials.
Mr. Brahimi said that the Syrian crisis had reached such an “urgent” stage that the Secretary-General thought it might be one of the questions to be addressed either by the G20 itself or on the margins of the summit.
“I’m sure it would be taken up in all the meetings the Secretary-General is going to have,” Mr. Brahimi told UNTV, adding that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov might organize a special meeting on Syria.
Meanwhile, the biomedical and environmental samples collected by the by Swedish scientist Dr. Ake Sellstrom and his team at sites in Syria where chemical weapons were allegedly used on 21 August, have now arrived at four laboratories in Europe for analyses.
Mr. Ban said scientists are working “around the clock” to ensure a rapid result but one that also respects the highest professional standards and without compromising its integrity.
Once results are available, Mr. Ban noted that he would report them “promptly” to the Security Council and all 193 UN Member States.