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Syria: Alfano, “open doors for refugees escaping wars and persecution”; Ban, “Aleppo is hell”

ROME/NEW YORK, DECEMBER 16 – “Because of the latest events in Syria the emergency of Syrian refugees is worsening by the days”, the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Angelino Alfano said today. In his view the situation in Syria represent “the dramatic proof of the fact that nobody can close an eye in front of the drama of people running from wars and persecutions”. Alfano said that “only an hypocrite could not realize that welcoming policies should be put front and center”.

In his last press conference as United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon today delivered stark warnings on two issues at the forefront of international concern: that “the carnage in Syria remains a gaping hole in the global conscience;” and that South Sudan faces a risk of genocide as the country leaders have “squandered a peace agreement.”

“Aleppo is now a synonym for hell,” Mr. Ban said at UN Headquarters in New York, bidding farewell to the UN press corps. Mr. Ban will complete his 10-year service as the world’s top diplomat on 31 December, passing the baton to his successor António Guterres, who was sworn in this past Monday.

“We have collectively failed the people of Syria. Peace will only prevail when it is accompanied by compassion, justice and accountability for the abominable crimes we have seen,” he added. As the Syria crisis enters its sixth year, civilians continue to bear the brunt of a conflict marked by unparalleled suffering, destruction and disregard for human life. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 13.5 million people require humanitarian assistance, including 4.9 million people in need trapped in besieged and hard-to-reach areas, where they are exposed to grave protection threats.

“More than 2,700 children have been evacuated from east Aleppo in the past 24 hours, including some who were sick, wounded or without their parents.However, hundreds of other vulnerable children, including orphans, remain trapped inside that part of the city. We are extremely concerned about their fate. If these children are not evacuated urgently, they could die”, warned UNICEF Director Anthony Lake.   (@OnuItalia)

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