UNITED NATIONS - Pakistan has called for refocusing international attention more sharply on the humanitarian situation in Syria where the nearly three years of conflict has left more than 100, 000 people dead and driven some 6.5 million others from their homes. "It is time to renew the call for a ceasefire that will help with humanitarian access, political dialogue and resolution of the conflict," Ambassador Masood Khan said in remarks during a closed door
UN Security Council meeting on Tuesday, while emphasizing that the political and humanitarian tracks should move side by and side, according to diplomatic sources.
The Pakistani envoy stressed the importance of next month's international conference in Geneva aimed at resolving the conflict in Syria, with the hope that all sides would participate "without pre-conditions" and with a determination to end the suffering of the Syrian people.
"Engagement and dialogue remain the only way out of this tragedy," Masood Khan said during a discussion that followed a briefing by the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator,Valeri Amos, about the humanitarian situation in Syria. After months of delays, the second Geneva conference is now set to take place in that city on January 22. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is currently in the process of finalizing the list of invitees to the conference.
"We believe that the recent diplomatic breakthroughs in Geneva, progress towards the elimination of Syria's chemical weapons, and OCHA's (United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs'), resolute advocacy and efforts should refocus international attention more sharply on Syria's humanitarian plight," the Pakistani envoy said.
"It is time to renew the call for a ceasefire that will help with humanitarian access, political dialogue and resolution of the conflict," he said, adding that the political and humanitarian tracks should move side by and side.
Masood Khan said, "All sides In the conflict, must clear all obstacles to humanitarian relief for the civilians. The Opposition groups need to annul their ban on access in their areas and then cooperate with the international humanitarian community.
The objectives should be clear: end to violence, humanitarian access, release of prisoners and return and repatriation of internally displaced persons and refugees.
"Continued support of regional players as well as major powers is critical for them success the humanitarian endeavour."
At this point, he stressed that not just Council action but also support was needed of the countries with influence with the parties to help with issues like humanitarian pauses, evacuation of civilians from blockaded localities, facilitation of visas and customs procedures , facilitation of field missions, and promotion of respect for the sanctity of medical personnel and sites.
Earlier, Ms. Amos reported “modest progress” with the Syrian Government on speeding up visa issuance and increasing the number of relief distribution hub. She said that with perhaps 250,000 Syrians cut off from aid in besieged communities across the war-torn country, greater efforts are needed to ensure real gains on the humanitarian front.