UN-Arab League Syria envoy resigns

14 May 2014

Lakhdar Brahimi will step down as joint UN-League of Arab States special representative for Syria on 31 May

Lakhdar Brahimi has resigned as joint UN-League of Arab States special representative for Syria amid a “hopeless divide” within the international community on how to end the civil war, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced on 13 May. The diplomat will step down on 31 May.

Appointed in August 2012, Brahimi took over the peace-facilitation role played by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. A long-time special adviser to the UN Secretary-General, Brahimi was also the former head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan from October 2001 to December 2004.

“I’m sure the crisis will end, but all [stakeholders] should consider how much more death, how much more destruction will occur… before Syria can become a new Syria,” said Brahimi.

“That the objective to which he applied his extraordinary talents has proven elusive is a tragedy for the Syrian people,” said Ban. “That his efforts have not received effective support from the United Nations body that is charged with upholding peace and security, and from countries with influence on the Syria situation, is a failure of all of us.”

The UN-backed Geneva II peace conference, held in January and February, showed that both camps are unwilling to compromise as the Syrian government and opposition representatives stuck to their positions. The talks yielded only modest cooperation on a humanitarian issue related to aid access for residents trapped in the besieged Old City of Homs.

“I regret that the parties, and especially the government, have proven so reluctant to take advantage of that opportunity to end the country’s profound misery,” said Ban.

“I also reiterate my strong view that there must be accountability for the terrible crimes that have been, and are being, committed,” he said, underscoring that such crimes include the deliberate starvation of people by preventing humanitarian access.

The conflict in Syria, which began in March 2011, has led to well over 100,000 deaths, and more than 680,000 people have been injured. More than 9.3 million people are in need of assistance inside Syria, including at least 6.5 million who are internally displaced. The conflict has also spawned a refugee crisis in which nearly 2.5 million people are being sheltered in neighbouring countries.

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