UN Special Envoy to Syria, Geir Pedersen (File Photo: UN News)
New York (UNA-OIC) – The United Nations Special Envoy to Syria, Geir Pedersen, briefed the Security Council about the causes of the economic crisis that hit Syria, including sharp currency fluctuations and a rise inflation rate to peak levels during the past six months.
Pedersen told the Security Council members via video-teleconference meeting that he is ready to convene a third session of the Syria-led and Syrian-owned constitutional committee in Geneva, towards the end of August, given COVID-19 travel restrictions.
But he warned that the realities now facing the Syrian people – more than 80 percent of whom are estimated to be living in poverty after a decade of conflict – cannot solely be addressed through constitutional talks.
The special envoy urged all domestic and international stakeholders to find a way forward that helps the Syrian people overcome their suffering and shape their own future.
“What is required is the readiness of all to deal seriously with the realities of the conflict,” he said, pledging to work with all sides to address the conflict in a way that restores Syria’s sovereignty, ends the acute suffering of the Syrian people and enables them to chart their own future.
According to UN News, Pedersen briefed the Council as Syria finds itself in the throes of economic collapse, aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic and neighboring Lebanon’s banking crisis, with the Syrian lira plunging in value and inflation on the rise.
The World Food Program (WFP) warns that 9.3 million Syrians are living in food insecurity, with more than 2 million more at risk.
The special envoy reiterated the UN’s call for unimpeded humanitarian access, including scaled-up cross-border deliveries, given both increased civilian suffering and the COVID-19 pandemic, with 183 reported cases so far.
Meanwhile, Pedersen appealed for sustained calm in Idlib and elsewhere and for a nationwide ceasefire to be put into place in line with UN Security Council resolution 2254 (2005), alongside efforts to prevent a resurgence of so-called Islamic State (also known as Daesh).
He also reiterated his call for Damascus and all other Syrian parties to free detainees and abductees – especially women, children, the elderly and the sick – and for more meaningful action on missing persons.