ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Syria Suffers

A humanitarian crisis looms in Syria as the civil war takes a sectarian turn.

Ever since protests erupted in Syria in 2011 against the Bashar al-Assad presidency, developments have only moved in one direction – the consolidation of the protests into a popular resistance movement. The stubbornness of the Assad regime has led to a civil war between the resistance and the security forces. If the protests initially resonated with the Arab Spring, the civil war has increasingly taken a sectarian hue as reports and statements from various United Nations (UN) agencies monitoring the situation in Syria have pointed out. The civil war has naturally resulted in a humanitarian crisis with many dead in violence perpetrated by both the regime and an armed insurgency that now includes a set of radical political Islamists. Yet the international response has been driven by geopolitical concerns that have come in the way of ending the civil war.

Reports from three UN agencies – a regular update from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, a statement from the UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide in December 2012 and a UN humanitarian assistance plan for 2013 for Syria – have pointed to the grave humanitarian crisis that prevails in the country. The civil war, now in a kind of stalemate between the opposition comprising a variety of groups and the Assad-led Ba’ath Party presidency, has resulted in close to 60,000 deaths according to the UN’s Human Rights Commission and in more than half a million Syrians fleeing to neighbouring countries according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Now, UN reports say the civil war has taken a sectarian turn pitting majority Sunni rebels against government forces supported by the country’s religious and ethnic minorities.

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