Bring Syria to peace talks, European Union tells Russia, Iran

A Syrian refugee girl sits in a classroom at a Lebanese public school at Kaitaa village in north Lebanon. Hussein Malla  AP

Since representatives of over 70 countries, global organizations and Syrian civil society gathered in Brussels in April 2017 to coordinate the humanitarian response to Syria, the political narrative around the refugee crisis has grown increasingly somber.

"We need in particular Russia, Iran to exercise pressure on Damascus so that it accepts to sit at the table under United Nations auspices", Mogherini said as she arrived for the gathering, the seventh of its kind.

"Obviously, differences didn't disappear over these few hours of talks, and we never expected that, but I believe we can say that we identified common ground on at least two or three issues", Mogherini said. The previous eight rounds of Geneva talks have made little progress.

"We need to stay the course and show continued support and solidarity with the Syrian people but also the host communities."

The Astana peace talks were launched on January 23-24, 2017, with the aim of putting an end to violence and improving the humanitarian situation in war-torn Syria.

"We're seeing in last few weeks, days. that military gains, territorial gains and military escalation does not bring a political solution, has not brought any change".

"We are quite desperately short of resources", he told reporters, saying UNOCHA managed to raise only half of the funds it needed in 2017.

Pledges of $3.4 billion also came in for 2019-2020 and the EU's humanitarian chief, Christos Stylianides, said the bloc and its member states offered the lion's share of the sum.

"We were not expecting a breakthrough on the political side, but we did not have a confrontation, and they were all there in the room".

The Syria crisis is the world's largest protection and displacement crisis and 13.1 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance and protection inside the country.

He stressed on importance of finding a political solution to the end the eight-year-old conflict and said that the suffering of the Syrian people was aggravated by use of chemical weapons in violation of all global laws and human principles.

"We need to see firm steps taken to ensure that all parties respect the rules of war", she said, stressing the need to protect civilians and stop attacks on health facilitates.

A UN Security Council retreat in a secluded farmhouse in Sweden at the weekend, called in a bid to overcome its paralysis on Syria, had lowered the "temperature" but failed to find a political solution, Mistura said.



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