UN envoy calls for resumption of political talks in Syria after earthquake
The head of the United Nations called Wednesday about a new attempt to reach a political solution to the country’s nearly 12-year-old civil war in the wake of last month’s devastating earthquake.
UN Special Envoy for Syria Gail Pedersen told reporters that the magnitude 7.8 earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria last month served as “a wake-up call to the world that the Syrian tragedy is not over yet”.
“We need to pay attention to this and see if it helps the political process progress,” he said.
An earthquake that has killed more than 50,000 people, including about 6,000 in Syria, has already prompted several political concessions from both the government of Damascus and its opponents.
The Syrian government has agreed to open additional border crossings for international aid to cross into rebel-held northwestern Syria from Turkey, and the United States and European countries have eased some sanctions on Damascus.
“The same logic that was applied on the humanitarian front lines needs to be applied at the political level,” Pedersen said at a press conference in Geneva.
Along with representatives of both the government and the opposition, Pedersen described a “Syrian-led and owned political process facilitated by the United Nations,” which included the return to meetings of the commission set up to draft a new constitution for Syria. asked for
At the January 2018 Russia-hosted Syrian peace conference, agreement was reached to set up a 150-member commission to draft a new constitution. It took him until September 2019 for the committee to form, and after eight rounds of consultation, little progress had been made.
The talks were called off entirely after the Syrian government, which had received significant Russian support in the civil war, refused to come to the meeting in Geneva following Russia’s war in Ukraine and rising tensions between Moscow and European nations. It was
Reconstruction of war-damaged areas is largely on hold due to the lack of political solutions. The country’s infrastructure is now being further damaged by the earthquake. The World Bank estimated last week that Syria suffered an estimated $5.1 billion in damage from the earthquake.
Asked about the prospects for post-earthquake recovery, Pedersen said the response to the earthquake was still focused on urgent humanitarian needs, but at a later stage, “some of the issues are more politically relevant. We need to deal with
“Hopefully we can facilitate it,” he said.