July 20th, 2011 13:44 EST
UN Chief Ban Speaks Out Against Violence In Syria
Voicing deep concern at the escalating violence against peaceful protesters in Syria, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on the country`s authorities to stop repression immediately " and urged all sides to refrain from violence.
Media reports state that dozens of people may have been killed over the past week in Homs, one of the towns and cities in Syria where tensions have been strongest between demonstrators and security forces.
Syria has been swept by deadly unrest this year as part of the broader movement for greater freedom across North Africa and the Middle East, and Mr. Ban and other senior UN officials have repeatedly expressed concern about the way that Syrian authorities have cracked down on the protesters.
In a statement issued by his spokesperson today, Mr. Ban reiterates his call for a credible and inclusive dialogue, which should be carried out without delay and be part of a broad and genuine reform effort.
The mass arrests of protesters are not consistent with serious reform, and should stop, " the statement added, noting that Mr. Ban is also urging Syria`s President Bashar Assad to provide a concrete response to the immediate grievances and longer-term concerns of ordinary Syrians.
The statement also stressed that Mr. Ban is urging authorities to allow humanitarian access to areas affected by the violence and to facilitate the visit of a fact-finding mission with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).