The UN on Monday expressed concern [press release] over violence in Syria and urged the Syrian government to stop using force against protesters. Nearly 1,200 people have been killed and 10,000 displaced since protests erupted in February. UN Under-Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos [official profile] urged [statement] the Syrian government to investigate the killings and praised border nations for their assistance:
I call on the Government to respect and protect civilians, and to refrain from the use of force against peaceful demonstrators. It is important that we find out exactly what is happening in Syria so that we can provide help if required. I hope that the Government of Syria will allow an independent assessment to be conducted. I commend the neighbouring states for keeping their borders open and appreciate the assistance they have given. I underscore the readiness of the United Nations to help with this in any way necessary, particularly in light of the recent increase in the numbers of new arrivals.Thousands of Syrians gathered at the Turkish border [NPR report] on Monday seeking refuge from Syrian military forces that continue to use violence against peaceful protestors.
There has been a major struggle to put an end to Syrian violence since the protests began earlier this year. In June, Syrian and international human rights groups urged the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] to investigate the hundreds of civilian deaths during protests against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad [Al Jazeera profile]. The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website], in an emergency special session in April, publicly condemned [text, PDF; JURIST report] the violence used by Syrian authorities against peaceful protesters. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] called for Syria to immediately halt the killings [JURIST report] and violence against civilian protesters in response to the fatal shootings of peaceful anti-government protesters. Also in April, al-Assad ended [JURIST report] the country's 48-year-old state of emergency, but protests have continued. Earlier in the same month, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] reported [text] that Syrian security forces have stopped medical personnel [JURIST report], sometimes violently, from attending to injured protesters. A spokesperson for the group called the practice "both inhumane and illegal." Pillay urged the Syrian government [JURIST report] in March to ensure protesters' rights to peaceful expression and to work toward addressing their concerns instead of responding with violence. As demonstrations continued throughout the country in March, the government freed 260 political detainees [AFP report] in an overture to the protesters.