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Action against Syria could increase sectarian violence: UN chief

September 06, 2013
United Nations Chief, Ban Ki-moon - File Photo
United Nations Chief, Ban Ki-moon - File Photo

SAINT PETERSBURG: United Nations Chief Ban Ki-moon made an ardent plea on Friday against military action in Syria, warning that it could increase sectarian violence in a country already suffering from an “unprecedented” humanitarian crisis in recent history.

“I must warn that ill-considered military action could cause serious and tragic consequences, and with an increased threat of further sectarian violence,” Ban said.

Speaking at a humanitarian meeting hosted by Britain on the sidelines of the G20 summit, Ban called on world powers to put aside their differences over the Syrian conflict.

He implored the world to take concerted action in order to get desperately needed aid to the population.

About a third of Syria's pre-war 20.8 million population has fled abroad or have been forced from their homes during the popular uprising against President Bashar al-Assad's regime, which is now in its third year according to UN refugee agency data.

“This is a humanitarian crisis of unprecedented proportions in recent history,” Ban said.

But “as some flee the country, others dig in to fight,” he said, pointing to the need to “avoid further militarisation of the conflict and revitalise the search for a political settlement instead.”

With a political solution proving hard to grasp as world leaders argue over their various positions with regards to Syria’s present conflict, Ban called for unity in securing humanitarian aid for the population.

“The world must do everything within its powers to stop the suffering of the Syrian people. Let us use this united recognition of the problem as our starting point for focused and positive action,” he said.

He said that a funding shortage was threatening to leave refugees in neighbouring countries with no food, adding that stocks would run out within days in Lebanon and within two weeks in Jordan.

“Your support in exercising leverage on all parties to facilitate humanitarian access is critical.”