30 Jan 2013

Syria breaking up and UN must intervene - envoy

3:23 pm on 30 January 2013

The international peace envoy on Syria has told the United Nations Security Council that the country is breaking up before everyone's eyes and it must intervene.

Lakhdar Brahimi told a closed-door session of the council in New York on Tuesday that he had no progress to report, adding that the government's legitimacy had been "seriously, probably irreparably, damaged."

The UN-Arab League envoy told the council the conflict in Syria had reached "unprecedented levels of horror" and the country was being destroyed with grave consequences for the wider region.

"Syria is being destroyed bit by bit. And in destroying Syria, the region is being pushed into a situation that is extremely bad and extremely important for the entire world.

"That is why I believe the Security Council simply cannot continue to say we are in disagreement, therefore let's wait for better times."

Mr Brahimi was speaking hours after evidence emerged of a fresh massacre in the northern city of Aleppo. At least 71 bodies were found by a river in the western Bustan al-Qasr district, opposition activists said. Each side in the conflict has blamed the other for the killings.

Mr Brahimi has been trying to seek a way out of the crisis on the basis of a peace plan approved at an international conference in June 2012 and told the council that divisions within it were not an excuse for inaction.

The UN says the conflict has left more than 60,000 people dead since an uprising began in March 2011 the Security Council has been been divided over Syria for months, the BBC reports.

The United States, Britain, France and other Western powers have pushed for resolutions that threaten sanctions against President Bashar al-Assad's government.

However, Russia and China have vetoed such resolutions three times. Moscow - a close ally of Syria - also refuses to back calls for Mr Assad to step down.

US to boost humanitarian aid

President Barack Obama said the United States will boost humanitarian aid to Syria and urged other nations to do more to help the UN.

The UN is struggling to assist about four million people in the war-torn country and more than 700,000 who have fled it, Reuters reports.

Mr Obama said he had authorised an additional $US155 million in aid for food, medical care and clothing for Syrians.

The president said he had wrestled with whether a US military intervention in Syria's 22-month-old civil war would help resolve the bloody conflict or make things worse.

On Tuesday, he said the aid would help bring food and clean water to Syrians, means immunisations for one million Syrian children and winter supplies for more than half a million people in Aleppo, Homs and Dayr az Zawr.

The UN has said it needs about $1 billion to help refugees and another $519 million to help people inside Syria but on Monday it had raised only 3% of that target.