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Situation ‘untenable’ as Syria war enters 13th year: UN special envoy

As the conflict in Syria enters its 13th year, the situation in the country is “untenable,” the UN special envoy said on Wednesday, stressing that to continue on the same path “defies humanity and logic.”

“We remember with deep regret the countless lives lost, and recall the abuses and suffering of millions – not least the forcibly displaced, and the tens of thousands who remain arbitrarily detained, disappeared and missing,” Geir Pedersen said in a statement.

The challenges faced in responding to the catastrophic earthquakes of Feb. 6 were a “stark reminder” that the status quo is “unsustainable and indefensible,” he said.

“In the aftermath of the earthquakes, we have a collective humanitarian imperative to depoliticize relief efforts. This means we need access, via all modalities; we need generous resources; and we need sustained calm,” he said.

The UN, however, cannot limit its collective efforts to the humanitarian response alone as Syria’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity are in jeopardy, and the country is “devastated, divided, and impoverished,” he added.

The pain of the Syrian people will endure until there is a comprehensive political solution, one that restores Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and gives its people the means to live in dignity and determine their own destiny, Pedersen said.

“The earthquakes can be a turning point,” he said, explaining that the UN has seen humanitarian steps from all sides in recent weeks that have moved beyond previous positions, even if temporarily.

“We need to see the same logic applied on the political front, to help find a way forward, including through step-for-step confidence building measures, resuming and substantively advancing the constitutional track, ensuring concrete action on detainees, abductees and missing persons, sustaining calm on the ground towards a nationwide cease-fire, and advancing a broader process to implement Security Council resolution 2254 (2015),” the envoy said.

“This is how we can advance towards the comprehensive resolution of the conflict that Syrians demand and deserve,” he concluded.

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