UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on Thursday for urgent action to lift sieges on civilians and to end barrel bomb attacks in Syria, denouncing a business-as-usual approach to the war-torn country.
The appeal was included in a report by the Secretary General to the UN Security Council that also insisted upon stepped-up efforts to reach a political solution and end the war which has entered its fourth year.
“This conflict has become business as usual,” Ban wrote in the report, a copy of which was obtained by AFP.
The UN chief listed five priorities for action, including the lifting of siege on 212,000 people, ensuring access to medical aid to all of Syria and rebuilding the education system.
He also said the 15-member council must address the issue of barrel-bomb attacks on civilians, as well as finding a way to end the practice of denying services as a weapon of war.
The report was the 12th to the Council, which has been deeply divided over the war that has left more than 210,000 dead and displaced 12 million Syrians.
Ban reported a significant escalation of violence and attacks by Assad’s forces during January in Damascus, rural Damascus and in eastern Ghouta.
Assad’s forces conducted aerial bombardments including with barrel bombs, shelled the area of eastern Ghouta and launched surface-to-surface missiles, the report said.
Ban said barrel bombs were used against civilians in Aleppo, where the UN is seeking to freeze fighting as part of its peace efforts.
The report stated that Assad’s forces are besieging 185,500 people in eastern Ghouta, Darayya and Yarmouk, while armed opposition groups in Nabul and Zahraa are preventing 26,500 people from gaining access to food and other supplies.
Ban said the crisis is worsening for Syrians after nearly four years of war and issued fresh appeals for a political solution.
“Defining a political solution will involve tough decisions and compromise, with everyone putting aside their preconditions for launching talks,” Ban declared.