UN envoy Brahimi arrives in Damascus for Assad talks
UN Arab League mediator Lakhdar Brahimi arrived in Syria on Thursday, his first trip to the country since taking over the post from Kofi Annan. Brahimi is expected to hold talks with President Bashar al-Assad on Friday.
UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi arrived in Damascus on Thursday and is expected to meet with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Friday.
Brahimi, who kicked off his peace mission with talks in Cairo, is on his first visit to the region since replacing former UN chief Kofi Annan. Annan quit in August over UN Security Council divisions on the conflict that has gripped Syria for nearly 18 months.
On Tuesday, UN chief Ban Ki-moon said Brahimi would meet Assad in Damascus and insisted that “the violence must stop by both sides”.
He told reporters in Bern that he understood the frustration felt by many in the face of the Security Council’s apparent paralysis in dealing with the escalating crisis.
But “while we may be frustrated and troubled by not being able to address the situation in Syria, which has reached intolerable circumstances”, he said, “we should not be overly pessimistic about the strength and the commitment of the international community, especially the international organisations.”
“Those countries who might have influence over two parties should exercise” that influence and work towards “a political resolution reflecting the genuine aspirations of the Syrian people”, Ban added.
Coupled with the violence is the humanitarian crisis caused by the large number of people fleeing the country or displaced within its borders.
The UN refugee agency said the number of civilians who have fled nearly 18 months of violence has reached more than 250,000. And it says more than 1.2 million civilians, more than half of them children, have been displaced inside Syria.
In Beirut, film star and UN special envoy Angelina Jolie said on Wednesday she was moved at how Lebanese families were opening their homes to Syria refugees, after Beirut ruled out setting up camps for them.
“I was very moved today to meet again with the Syrian families. And to meet them here, not in a camp, but in homes where they are welcomed and protected,” the Oscar-winning star told reporters.
The Lebanese government has ruled out the possibility of establishing refugee camps amid fears that the crisis in neighbouring Syria could spill across its borders.
Already, areas of northern Lebanon where a large number of refugees have concentrated have come under shelling from inside Syria.
FRANCE 24 with wires