United Nations, Dec 17: Describing the war-ravaged Syrian town of Aleppo as a "synonym for hell", UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said the international community has collectively failed the people of Syria and the carnage there remains a "gaping hole" in the global conscience.
In his last press conference as the UN Secretary-General, Ban delivered stark warnings on two issues at the forefront of international concern--- Syria and South Sudan.
He stated that "the carnage in Syria remains a gaping hole in the global conscience and South Sudan faces a risk of genocide as the country leaders have squandered a peace agreement." "Aleppo is now a synonym for hell," Ban said here yesterday, bidding farewell to the UN press corps.
"We have collectively failed the people of Syria. Peace will only prevail when it is accompanied by compassion, justice and accountability for the abominable crimes we have seen," Ban said.
On another front, he noted that this week will mark the third year of conflict in South Sudan, and he deplored that "the country's leaders have betrayed their people's trust, and squandered a peace agreement."
"Most immediately, my Special Adviser (on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng) has warned of the risk of genocide," he said, urging the UN Security Council to take more concerted action, including through punitive measures.
Ban will complete his 10-year service as the world's top diplomat on December 31, passing the baton to his successor Antonio Guterres, who was sworn in this past week. "This has been a decade of unceasing test," he said.
"But I have also seen collective action change millions of lives for the better," Ban said. As the Syria crisis enters its sixth year, civilians continue to bear the brunt of a conflict marked by unparalleled suffering, destruction and disregard for human life.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 13.5 million people require humanitarian assistance, including 4.9 million people in need trapped in besieged and hard-to-reach areas, where they are exposed to grave protection threats.