(MENAFN - Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) NEW YORK, June 22 (KUNA) -- In a comprehensive approach, the world top organization gathered to a briefing on Syria covering the political, humanitarian and human rights perspectives.
Opening the meeting, the President of the General Assembly, Mogens Lykketoft recalled that in December 2015, the global community was encouraged to hear that a new diplomatic effort launched in Vienna was providing a "glimmer of hope" for a solution to the crisis in Syria, but that since then, there has been "progress alongside setbacks." UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, briefed the General Assembly by video teleconference about developments in the political process, and he said that political talks cannot proceed while Syrians are starving.
He added that in recent days, there has been progress on the humanitarian front but noted Government attacks on the towns that received aid.
The UN official affirmed that there have been violations of the cessation of hostilities, although he added that the level of fighting remains below where it was when the cessation went into effect earlier this year.
Speaking to cover the humanitarian aspect of the meeting, the Undersecretary General and Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O''Brien confirmed that a staggering 590,000 civilians inside Syria are besieged, the vast majority of them by the Government of Syria. He told the gathered member states that civilians in Darayya, Duma, Foah and Kefraya, Deir-ez Zor and other besieged areas continue to face barrel bombs, sniper fire, and shelling. "The barbaric use of medieval siege tactics is morally reprehensible and has no place in the 21st century," he added.
The UN and partners, he said, have reached over 330,000 people in besieged areas in the first half of this year, and each month they reach around a third of the total number of besieged people, compared to just a small fraction of that last year. "This does represents a small degree of progress, but it is a long way from the sustained and unconditional access that we require," he expressed. He called for a sustained support for the malnourished babies, and the chronically ill, and not one-off deliveries.
Over three quarters of people who are stuck in hard-to-reach areas remain beyond the UN''s reach he said.
The UN humanitarian official said parties to the conflict, principally non-State armed groups and listed terrorist groups repeatedly cut services, collectively punishing entire villages and cities in the process. He then expressed concern for those people living in areas held by the so-called Islamic State(IS), who live under daily oppression, human rights abuses and terror.
For his part, the Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic underscored that the crisis in Syria is rooted in human rights violations, with parties to the conflict blatantly disregarding such rights by launching indiscriminate attacks, using disproportionate force, and destroying protected sites and medical units.
As the Syrians enter their sixth year of "horror", he told the member states that so many have suffered torture, destruction and death, their story is no longer "news". It may be difficult to grasp the effect of millions of rights violations in the Syrian conflict - but it is plain to see they must be stopped, he added.
In that vein, the human rights official said that across Syria, many people are being subjected to arbitrary detention and the deprivation of liberty in the "most appalling conditions." Many are tortured and many die while in detention, while the fate of several thousand missing persons must be clarified. (end) mao