NEW YORK, 11th March, 2023 (WAM) -- Support provided to Syria following the recent deadly earthquakes must be directed towards finding a political solution to the civil war, now entering its 12th year, the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), Antonio Guterres, said on Friday.
"Now is the time for us to act in unison, to secure a nationwide ceasefire, advance the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people, and create the conditions necessary for the voluntary return of refugees in safety and dignity, with our strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity, and territorial integrity of Syria, and to regional stability," he said in a statement.
A grim milestone
The UN chief noted that this Saturday, 11th March, marks 12 years of grinding conflict and untold human grief in Syria.
The earthquakes, which rocked the country and neighbouring Trkiye last month, hit as humanitarian needs had reached their highest levels since the fighting began.
This latest tragedy also struck amid worsening economic conditions, taking a toll on communities already ravaged by war and displacement, he added. Damage has been worst in the northwest, where more than four million people were already relying on aid to survive.
Ensure aid access
"As we mourn all those who lost their lives and expand humanitarian operations across Syria, we must ensure continued access using all modalities and sufficient resources to meet the needs of all those affected," said the Secretary-General.
This support also includes early recovery assistance, which he said builds resilience while addressing immediate life-saving needs.
He also underscored the urgency of guaranteeing cross-border aid access from Trkiye to the northwest for 12 months.
Path to peace
"The support provided in the aftermath of these earthquakes must be channelled into renewed energy on the political track, to address the fundamental issues underpinning the Syria conflict," he stressed.
The UN chief said he remains convinced that reciprocal and verifiable steps by the Syrian parties, and among key international stakeholders, can unlock the path to sustainable peace.