Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

U.N. Scrambling to Bolster Monitoring Staff for Syria

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

U.N. Scrambling to Bolster Monitoring Staff for Syria

Article excerpt

The international community has committed only about half of the 300 people sought to monitor the cease-fire in Syria, a top peacekeeping official said, while violence continued to engulf the country.

The top U.N. peacekeeping official has said that Syria remains troubled by appalling violence more than two weeks into the first deployment of cease-fire monitors there, and that his organization had recruited only about half of the 300-member contingent he hoped to station in the country.

The official, Herve Ladsous, who is under secretary for peacekeeping operations at the United Nations, also said Tuesday that the Syrian authorities had not yet removed their heavy weapons from population centers, as required under the cease-fire plan. He added that they also had not granted a U.N. request that monitors be allowed to use helicopters for rapid mobility in the country, where an anti-government uprising is now in its 14th month.

Still, Mr. Ladsous said, the monitors who began arriving in Syria in mid-April, and who now number 24, have helped to reduce some of the worst mayhem in the country simply by being present. He also expressed confidence that a full deployment of 300 monitors would be completed by the end of the month.

"Commitments are coming in, very solidly, but we are not yet at the 300 mark," Mr. Ladsous said of the monitors. "We have something like 150 solid commitments, which are already being processed. But we need more from member states."

Mr. Ladsous spoke at a news conference at the U.N. headquarters in New York that was intended to highlight the progress of the peacekeeping monitors who were sent under the cease-fire plan negotiated by Kofi Annan, the joint special envoy from the United Nations and the Arab League.

But much of what Mr. Ladsous said appeared to reflect a lack of progress in helping to tame a conflict that has left more than 9,000 dead since March last year, when dissidents inspired by the Arab Spring revolts in Egypt and Tunisia first began protesting against the government of President Bashar al-Assad. …

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