Donors meet aid target for Syria
Donor countries have pledged more than $1.5 billion to aid Syrians stricken by civil war, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today after warning that the conflict had wrought a catastrophic humanitarian crisis.
He appealed today to all combatants in Syria's civil war to stop fighting "in the name of humanity".
Speaking at an aid donor conference in Kuwait, Mr Ban said: "I appeal to all sides and particularly the Syrian government, to stop the killing ... in the name of humanity, stop the killing, stop the violence."
UN Arab League mediator Lakhdar Brahimi late yesterday warned the UN Security Council that Syrian president Bashar al-Assad may be able to cling to power for now but the country is "breaking up before everyone's eyes".
Mr Brahimi appealed to the council to overcome its deadlock and take action to help put an end to the Syrian civil war.
However, it was not clear whether his latest report would persuade Russia to agree to support concrete UN steps to try to halt the bloodshed.
Mr Brahimi suggested that attempts to end the 22-month-old conflict had not progressed in the last two months. He said it was up to the Security Council to end its impasse.
"The country is breaking up before everyone's eyes," Mr Brahimi was quoted as saying by diplomats inside the closed-door meeting. "Only the international community can help and first (and) foremost the Security Council."
"I told the council that I'm embarrassed to be repeating the same thing," Mr Brahimi told reporters after the meeting. "Syria is being destroyed, bit by bit."
He said the principles of a political transition in Syria, agreed to in Geneva last year, could form the basis for a Security Council plan of action.
"In the Geneva communique the meaning of full executive powers (for a transitional government) must be clarified, but it clearly means that Assad should have no role in the transition," one diplomat quoted Brahimi as saying.
The mediator told the council that Assad may be able to hold onto power for the time being, but that "the Syrian regime's legitimacy has been seriously, probably irreparably, damaged."
Russia has said that insisting on Assad's departure as a condition for peace negotiations between the government and the opposition forces would prevent such talks from ever taking place. The opposition, backed by the United States and much of Europe, has made plain that Assad can play no role in a future Syrian government.
The Security Council has been deadlocked since 2011 over Russia and China's refusal to consider sanctions against Assad's government. They have vetoed three resolutions condemning Assad's attempts to crush what began as peaceful protests inspired by other Arab Spring uprisings.
Brahimi said "unprecedented levels of horror" have been reached in Syria, and that both the government and the opposition forces have committed atrocious crimes.
Highlighting his point about atrocities, opposition activists said at least 65 people had been found shot dead with their hands bound in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on Tuesday in what they called a "new massacre."
The United Nations is not present in all parts of Syria but it is maintaining limited aid operations. It has warned, however, that it needs more money and better access on the ground.