Media Statement

29 May 2013

South Africa expresses concern over the human rights situation in Syria

The Syrian conflict has been raging for well over two years with devastating humanitarian consequences in terms of massive loss of life of innocent people and the accompanying wanton destruction of both property and resources.

The situation in Syria lends itself to one of the worst humanitarian disasters in recent times with severe consequences for the entire region.

South Africa conveys its deepest sympathy to the Syrian people, in particular, innocent families who have been on the receiving end of the on-going violence and some of whom had to flee to neighbouring countries as refugees.

The South African Government sincerely appreciates the tireless efforts of the UN agencies, the International Committee of the Red Cross and other humanitarian relief organisations in assisting the civilian population during these difficult times.

The only hope for the Syrian people lies in the willingness of all the parties to the conflict to immediately put an end to the violence and start engaging each other constructively with the aim of reaching an agreement on a political transition based on the Geneva Communiqué of June 2012.

The South African Government urges the parties to use the opportunity presented by the proposed international conference to be held in Geneva soon, to start a process of genuine negotiations without preconditions.

Democracy is an unassailable right of the Syrian people.

South Africa strongly believes that the solution to the on-going conflict must be Syrian-led and that the International Community should play a constructive complementary role towards the genuine pursuit of durable peace in Syria and indeed the region. A political solution must be reflective of their will and aspirations and protect the inalienable rights of the people of Syria.

The continued human rights abuses and the increasing reports of war crimes and crimes against humanity are deplorable.

While recognizing that the Government of Syria has the greater responsibility for the protection of civilians and that it should stop the use of indiscriminate force against its people, it is important for the international community to respond to the atrocities committed by rebel and sectarian groups as well – as stated by the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

South Africa is gravely concerned that the increased supply of weapons to the parties has entrenched the false notion that a military solution is possible, when in fact there is no military solution to this crisis. If this continues, then it is ultimately the people of Syria who will pay the price, whilst those supplying weapons live in safety far away from the crisis.

For further information, please contact Clayson Monyela, Spokesperson for DIRCO, on 082 884 5974.

Issued by: The Department of International Relations and Cooperation

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