Root cause and effect: More talks on Syria's twin problems

Displaced Syrians take shelter from the cold at the Za'atari refugee camp in Jordan. The Arab League convened foreign affairs ministers on Jan. 13 in Cairo to discuss the needs of Syrian refugees. Photo by: B. Sokol / UNHCR

Dozens of U.N. members have mounted an ill-fated attempt to put pressure on the Syrian government to stop fighting its people. Meanwhile, Arab leaders called for a political solution to the bloody conflict as they met Sunday (Jan. 13) to discuss ways to better coordinate care for Syrian refugees.

The Swiss representative to the United Nations sent a letter signed more than 50 of his colleagues, including those of the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Japan, to the U.N. Security Council on Jan. 14, urging the panel to refer the Syrian crisis to the International Criminal Court to add pressure on President Bashar Assad to call back his troops and step down.

According to the letter, Syria is in a “desperate” situation, with “atrocities” having become the norm, further endangering civilians and making relief efforts much more difficult. (Aid organizations such as the World Food Program and the International Rescue Committee have again appealed for more funding.)

The Security Council is unlikely to act on the call, however, because two of its permanent members, Russia and China, have stonewalled efforts to toughen sanctions against Syria in the past. But the correspondence suggested that the council, “at the very least,” send out a mesage to the different parties involved in the concflict, urging them to respect the humanitarian law and human rights.

Meanwhile, the humanitarian crisis in Syria and its neighbor countries, which have seen an influx of refugees, continues to worsen. The Arab League convened foreign affairs ministers on Jan. 13 in Cairo to tackle the many needs of Syrian refugees in different camps and those that are internally displaced. Among the points of discussion were ways to coordinate aid efforts across shelters and the deployment of a special force to help internally displaced people.

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    Adrienne Valdez

    Adrienne Valdez is a staff writer for Devex, covering breaking international development news for the Development Newswire. Before joining Devex, Adrienne worked as a news correspondent for a public-sector modernization publication.