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U.N., Arab League Condemn Syria as Refugee Crisis Worsens

( [email protected] ) Jun 15, 2011 06:41 AM EDT
As the plight of more than 8,000 Syrian refugees on Turkish border deteriorates into a humanitarian crisis, the United Nations has released a report condemning the Syrian government for committing "breaches of the most fundamental rights" against its people.
Members of the Turkish police special force and Foreign Ministry officials look on as Syrians wait to cross into Turkey on the border zone between Turkey and Syria near the Turkish village of Guvecci, 50 km (31 miles) from Hatay city centre, June 15, 2011. More than 8,500 Syrians have already fled to neighbouring Turkey to escape a widening military campaign to crush protests against President Bashar al-Assad. Reuters / Osman Orsal

As the plight of more than 8,000 Syrian refugees on Turkish border deteriorates into a humanitarian crisis, the United Nations has released a report condemning the Syrian government for committing "breaches of the most fundamental rights" against its people.

The U.N. report, released Wednesday, says Syrian troops’ use of live ammunition against unarmed civilians on a non-violent protest has killed about 1,100 people. The U.N. human rights office has called for an investigation into the allegations of abuses by Syrian authorities.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has also condemned the government of Syria for its lack of care for its people. Erdogan, on Tuesday, drew the attention of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to the worsening refugee situation and told him to "refrain from violence and end the unrest."

Erdogan, fresh from his recent election, condemned the use of arms against unarmed civilians and told Assad to begin political reforms in his country.

In a response on Wednesday, the Syrian government sent an envoy, Hassan Turkmani, to Ankara to discuss the crisis.

At least 8,538 Syrians have fled to the Turkish border in recent days as refugees, as Syrian tanks bombarded its villages and towns near the Turkish border. More than half of the refugees are children.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has sought the approval of the Syrian authorities to let in his humanitarian team to make a proper assessment of the situation, but the Syrian government has so far turned down his request.

The Syrian government has also stopped foreign journalists from entering the country.

Turkey has taken emergency steps to open more refugee camps to accommodate the increasing number of Syrians fleeing the brutality of Assad’s troops.

The recent torture and killing of a 13-year-old boy, Hamza Ali al-Khateeb, by the Syrian military drew international outrage against the Syrian government and solidarity with the pro-democracy movement.

The Arab League, known for its tacit support for even its erring member nations, has also condemned the situation in Syria as "dangerous and worrying."

Both the British ambassador to the United States, Mark Lyall Grant, and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have criticized the Assad‘s government for its action.

Ambassador Grant said the refugee situation “demands” immediate attention and called for an end to the violence.

In her condemnation of Damascus on Tuesday, Clinton blamed Assad for his “vicious assaults on peaceful protesters and military actions against its own cities.” She called for an end to the violence.

Clinton accused Iran of aiding the Syrian attack on peaceful demonstrators, likening it to Iran’s assault on its people after the 2009 re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

France has also condemned the Syrian government. In a statement by its Foreign Ministry spokesman, Bernard Valero, France said, “The U.N. Security Council must take a stance on the intolerable situation in Syria and the lack of restraint being shown by the authorities in Damascus.”

Valero decried the killing of innocent civilians. He called the Syrian government’s torture of his people and violations of their rights “catastrophic.”

U.N. officials said more than 10,000 Syrians have sought refuge in neighboring countries since the uprising against the government.

The U.N. report also details the arrest and detention of innocent civilians in unbearable conditions. The Syrian government has detained about 10,000 demonstrators since the pro-democracy protests began.