UNITED NATIONS, March 15 (Itar-Tass) —— The Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the League of Arab States for Syria, Kofi Annan, has received the Syrian government’s reply to the questions he raised during his trip to that country in a bid to facilitate a peaceful solution to the crisis.
Annan “has questions and is seeking answers,” a statement issued by his spokesperson on Wednesday, March 14, said. “But given the grave and tragic situation on the ground, everyone must realize that time is of the essence,” it added. “As he said in the region, this crisis cannot be allowed to drag on.”
During his mission to Damascus, the Syrian capital, on Sunday, March 11, Annan urged Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to embrace change and reforms that will form the foundation for democracy in his country.
“The transformational winds blowing today cannot be long-resisted,” he said. “I have urged the President to heed the old African proverb: ‘you cannot turn the wind, so turn the sail.’ The realistic response is to embrace change and reform.”
He stressed that reforms would help build a “peaceful, stable, pluralistic and prosperous society, based on the rule of law and respect for human rights.” Discussions during the weekend meeting between Annan and Assad also focused on halting the violence, giving access to humanitarian agencies, and starting a political dialogue.
Annan also expressed serious concern over the situation in Syria, and put forward several proposals to stop the violence and the killing, give access for humanitarian agencies and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), release detainees, and start an inclusive political dialogue to address the legitimate aspirations and concerns of the people.
Thousands of people, mainly civilians, have been killed and tens of thousands displaced since the start of the conflict in March last year.
In a related development, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) voiced serious concern over the state of food security, especially for vulnerable groups, because of continued civil unrest since March 2011.
According to the Syrian Central Bureau of Statistics, inflation increased between June and December 2011 by about 15 percent, mainly driven by sharp increases in food prices and fuel shortages that are impacting on transportation costs.
FAO and WFP are currently running an emergency operation providing food aid and vouchers to 100,000 people in the country.