BEIRUT

Middle East

Syria 'calamity' a threat to world peace: Ban

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon addresses the 67th United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. Headquarters in New York, September 25, 2012. REUTERS/Keith Bedford

UNITED NATIONS: UN leader Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday that the Syrian civil war is a "calamity" that now threatens world peace and demands action by the divided UN Security Council.

Ban told the opening of the UN General Assembly that the Syria conflict "is a regional calamity with global ramifications" that needs action by the Security Council.

"The international community should not look the other way as violence spirals out of control," Ban told world leaders, adding that "brutal" rights abuses were being committed by President Bashar al-Assad's government.

"I call on the international community -- especially the members of the Security Council and countries in the region -- to solidly and concretely support the efforts" of UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi.

"We must stop the violence and flow of arms to both sides and set in motion a Syrian-led transition as soon as possible," Ban added.

The 15-nation Security Council has become paralyzed by deadlock over the 18-month-old deadlock which Syrian activists say has left more than 29,000 dead.

Russia, Assad's main ally, and China have vetoed three Security Council resolutions which could have led to sanctions against the Syrian government.

Ban said the crimes being committed in Syria must not go unpunished. "There is no statute of limitations for such extreme violence," he insisted.

"It is the duty of our generation to put an end to impunity for international crimes in Syria and elsewhere."

Ban said he wanted his address to the 193-member UN to "sound the alarm about our direction as a human family."

The UN secretary general condemned governments which spend "vast and precious funds on deadly weapons" at a time of growing climate change, economic crisis and growing poverty.

He warned that "the door may be closing for good" on chances of creating separate Palestinian and Israeli states because of the growth of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories.

"We must break this dangerous impasse," he said.

Ban called the anti-Islam Internet video which has inflamed protests across the world "a disgraceful act of great insensitivity" which he said had caused "justifiable offense and unjustifiable offense."

"I am profoundly concerned about continued violence in Afghanistan and in the Democratic Republic of Congo," he said.

"The crisis in the Sahel is not getting sufficient attention and support."

"Poverty, fragility, drought and sectarian tensions are threats to stability across the region," Ban said. "Extremism is on the rise," he warned, referring to the Islamists who have seized northern Mali.

"The international community needs a major concerted effort to address this alarming situation," he added.

The UN leader called on Sudan and South Sudan to resolve all the differences that brought them to the verge of war this year.

 

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