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Foreign Minister Urmas Paet: Those Who Have Fled From Violence in Syria Must Receive International Aid

26.09.2012

No 338-E

At the meeting of European Union foreign ministers that took place yesterday in New York within the framework of the opening week of the UN General Assembly, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said that the ongoing violence in Syria must stop. “The humanitarian situation in Syria is dire. In the past 18 months close to 28 000 people have been killed in the civil war in Syria,” said Foreign Minister Paet. Paet emphasised that we must continue to demand that the parties involved in the conflict allow humanitarian workers to access crisis zones and also ensure their safety.

Paet stated that the flow of refugees from Syria into the neighbouring countries is growing. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that of the approximately 246 000 war refugees that have fled Syria, 81 000 are in Jordan, 78 000 in Turkey, 65 000 in Lebanon, and 22 000 in Iraq. Of the Syrian refugees that have been registered by the UNHCR, three quarters are women and children. “The international community must show solidarity to the countries that are receiving refugees,” said Paet. He added that the European Union will also increase the amount of humanitarian aid allocated for helping refugees.

According to the Estonian foreign minister we must continue working towards a political transition in Syria. “It is essential to make progress in forming a transitional government for Syria, which is why the international community must call even more strongly for Syria to join the opposition,” he said. He added that Estonia fully supports the work of the Special Representative of the UN and Arab League Lakhdar Brahimi in finding a solution to the situation.

Paet emphasised that possible crimes against humanity and violations of human rights committed during the conflict in Syria must be investigated internationally and impartially and the perpetrators of the violence must be held responsible.

Paet also said it is regrettable that the UN Security Council has not managed to reach a consensus on pressuring the Syrian regime. “Estonia participated in the UN supervision mission in Syria UNSMIS in accordance with the mandate of the UN Security Council,” said Paet. “We are prepared to continue supporting the presence of the UN in Syria, which would help support a peaceful transition in the country,” he added.

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