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article imageUN chief calls for Syria ceasefire to be 'immediately implemented'

By AFP     Feb 26, 2018 in World

The United Nations secretary-general on Monday demanded the immediate implementation of 30-day ceasefire in Syria as the Damascus regime continued its deadly bombardment of the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta.

UN chief Antonio Guterres praised the adoption of a Security Council resolution Saturday calling for the truce but underscored "Security Council resolutions are only meaningful if they are effectively implemented.

"That is why I expect the resolution to be immediately implemented and sustained," he told the opening of the 37th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

"Eastern Ghouta cannot wait. It is high time to stop this hell on earth," Guterres said.

It took days of diplomatic wrangling before Security Council on Saturday adopted a resolution calling for the ceasefire "without delay" to allow for aid deliveries and medical evacuations in Eastern Ghouta.

But fresh bombardment by the Syrian regime killed at least 10 civilians in the area on Monday, including nine members of a same family, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor group said.

Air strikes destroyed a building in Douma, the main town in the area east of Damascus, and buried alive an entire family, according to the Observatory.

More than 500 civilians have been killed in regime and Russian bombardment of Eastern Ghouta, which is controlled by Islamist and jihadist fighters, since February 18, the Observatory further said.

- 'Prolific slaughterhouses' -

UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, who addressed the rights council after Guterres, warned that "we have every reason to remain cautious" on the proposed Syria truce.

The resolution "must be viewed against a backdrop of seven years of failure to stop the violence, seven years of unremitting and frightful mass killing," he said.

More than 340,000 people have been killed and millions driven from the homes in Syria's war, which next month enters its eighth year with no diplomatic solution in sight.

Zeid slammed a lack of international action to rein in the carnage in Syria and other conflict zones like Yemen, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Myanmar, which he said had become "some of the most prolific slaughterhouses of humans in recent times."

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres praised the Security Council resolution for a Syri...
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres praised the Security Council resolution for a Syria ceasefire but said it would only be meaningful if "effectively implemented".
Jean-Guy PYTHON, AFP

The human rights chief has repeatedly and forcefully chastised the Security Council throughout the Syrian conflict for failing to refer the case to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Zeid has blamed the council's inability to act on Syria on the veto power held by several of the five permanent members.

On Monday, Zeid blasted veto-wielding members for the council's intransigence on Syria and other conflicts, saying they bore "responsibility for the continuation of so much pain."

He hailed France and Britain for working towards reforming the ways vetoes are used, but insisted that "it is time, for the love of mercy, that China, Russia and the United States... end the pernicious use of the veto."

- 'Oppression fashionable' -

Zeid, who has said he will be stepping down at the end of his term later this year, also warned Monday of a general deterioration in the respect for rights around the world.

"Today, oppression is fashionable again. The security state is back and fundamental freedoms are in retreat in every region of the world. Shame is also in retreat," he said.

He highlighted in particular "xenophobes and racists in Europe", who he said were "casting off any sense of embarrassment".

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