|United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks during his year-end press conference at the UN headquarters in New York, on Dec. 16, 2013. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday said that "2013 was the year in which the Syrian conflict deteriorated beyond all imagination," and "the people of Syria can not afford another year." (Xinhua/Niu Xiaolei)
UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 16 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon on Monday called for an early end to the Syrian crisis while expressing concern for the deterioration of the conflict in the passing year of 2013.
Ban made the statement when he was addressing a year-end press conference at the UN Headquarters in New York City, summing up the work of the world body in the outgoing year and touching on its major challenges in the coming year.
"The people of Syria can not afford another year, another month, even another day of brutality and destruction," Ban said, referring to the Syrian crisis and subsequent conflict that broke out in March 2011.
More than 100,000 people were killed and the UN estimates that some 6.3 million people have been internally displaced since the conflict broke out in March 2011. More than two million Syrians have fled to neighboring countries, including Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs ( OCHA) on Monday appealed for 6.5 million U.S. dollars for Syria and its neighbors to help 16 million people next year, and the money requested for Syria was the largest UN appeal even for a single crisis.
The UN secretary-general also said that he will soon issue invitations to the International Conference on Syria, scheduled for Jan. 22 in Geneva, Switzerland, which is also known as the Geneva II in a bid to bring an early end to the 30-month Syrian crisis.
"Everyone involved must do everything in their power to help the conference succeed," Ban said. "I appeal to the Syrian authorities to end the violence and provide humanitarian access."
"The humanitarian situation continues to worsen," said Ban. "We have started distributing winter aid to help people cope with the harsh conditions that are taking hold." He also urged States and organizations with "influence on the Syrian sides to help them prepare for constructive engagement."
The secretary-general came to his press conference after he briefed the UN Security Council on the final report of a UN fact- finding panel, led by Swedish scientist Ake Sellstrom, on the allegations of the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian conflict.
The UN investigation team, set up in March to probe into the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria, confirmed that the chemical weapons were repeatedly used in Syria, but it did not say who did it.
Since the allegations arose, the Syrian government acknowledged that it possessed chemical weapons and joined the Chemical Weapons Convention before making pledges of eliminating the chemical weapons. A Joint UN Mission with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was established and is overseeing the destruction of Syria's stockpiles and production facilities.
The team, which in September found "clear and convincing evidence" of sarin gas attacks against civilians, including children, in the Damascus area, this time reported "credible information" that such weapons were used against soldiers and civilians in other parts of the country, including in Khan Al Asal on March 19.
"We should all be deeply concerned by its findings that chemical weapons were used not only in the August attack in Ghouta area of Damascus, but on several other occasions, including against civilians," said Ban.
"We are all now acutely aware that chemical weapons were used not only in the appalling August attack in the Ghouta area of Damascus, but also on several other occasions, including on a small scale, against civilians and military targets," Ban said in his briefing to the 15-nation Security Council.
"This new and broader knowledge should be of deep concern to all of us," he said. "Any use of chemical weapons, by anyone, under any circumstances, is a grave violation of the 1925 Protocol and other relevant rules of customary international law."
The use of chemical weapons in Syria was a "deplorable offense" against the universal values of humankind, said Ban. "Those responsible must be held accountable."
Yearender: Syrian crisis calls for international wisdom
DAMASCUS, Dec. 16 (Xinhua) -- The Syrian crisis, which witnessed few ups and many downs this year, is in dire need of international wisdom to help end the conflict and ward off its spillover effects.
The crisis started more than 33 months ago and reached a tipping point in August following accusations that the Syrian government launched a deadly chemical attack in the suburbs of Damascus, violating international regulations and inciting worldwide outrage. Full story