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Earthquakes amplify need for calm in Syria: UN special envoy

UN Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen has said he will meet a ceasefire task force to discuss the need for calm after two earthquakes devastated the region.

“We need calm on the ground. Something that I will be stressing when I’m meeting tomorrow with the ceasefire task force here in Geneva,” Pedersen said at a news conference on Wednesday.

The earthquakes that struck the region last month have also acted as a wake-up call to the world that the Syrian tragedy is “far from over,” he said, noting that after 12 years of war and conflict, Syrians have been struck by a terrible natural disaster.

He said the attention on Syria renewed regionally and internationally following the earthquakes.

“We need to take this attention and see if it can help us unlock progress on the way forward, ” he said.

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Finding political solution

“Without the political solution, Syrian suffering will endure,” he said. “All the challenges that existed pre-earthquake still remain and I think this is extremely important.”

The envoy said no existing group or actors “can resolve this conflict alone” before adding: “There needs to be a genuine Syrian-led and own political process facilitated by the United Nations. There needs to be a coordinated international effort in support of this with all key players working in a coherent effort.”

The earthquakes have only created new needs, he said.

“I appeal to the Syrian government, the Syrian opposition, Syrians from all sectors of civil society and all key regional and wider international stakeholders to engage positively with the United Nations at this crucial time,” he added.

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