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UN Security Council ends Syria observer mission

UN, Aug 17 (): The United Nations Security Council has taken a decision to end its military monitoring mission, the United Nations observer mission in Syria, days before its mandate expired on Sunday. Instead, it said a small, civilian office will be set up to maintain political contacts.

The increasingly violent rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad’s government in Syria has left diplomatic peace-making efforts paralyzed. Yet, the Security Council has decided to keep the much smaller United Nations office in the country, hoping that a political solution was still possible.

The UN observer mission, which found difficult to do its job due to continued violence, had been a part of Kofi Annan’s six-point peace plan.

Some diplomatic experts said the withdrawal of the observer mission is an unusual reaction by the United Nations that it was helpless to resolve the conflict in which an estimated 18,000 people have been killed and none of the opponents are interested in negotiating.

The fighting in the nearly 18-month uprising against President Bashar al-Assad has become more intense. More funding is needed to help as many as 2.5 million people in need of aid in the violence-torn nation.

The UN’s humanitarian chief Valerie Amos is in Syria to evaluate the country’s humanitarian needs as the conflict increases. She is frustrated as Syria is not allowing more major international aid groups into the country. She warned that the situation was worsening, with the number of people in need possibly as high as 2.5 million, with one million at risk of “destitution”.

A fortnight ago, Mr Kofi Annan resigned as UN-Arab League envoy to Syria, saying there is “clear lack of unity” in the Security Council.

UN deputy peacekeeping chief Edmond Mulet said 101 military observers will leave Damascus over the next eight days and an estimated 20 to 30 people would staff the liaison office.

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