UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and League of Arab States Secretary-General Nabil El Araby [official websites] on Friday called on warring parties in Syria to stop violence and order a ceasefire [UN News Centre report] during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha and urged international leaders to join their appeal. The secretaries-general directed their statement at all parties involved, but in particular called on the Syrian government to "show wisdom and vision and stop the killing and destruction so that all the issues, however complex, can be addressed through peaceful means." The call for a ceasefire come on the same day that UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict Leila Zerrougui expressed concern over the killing of children [UN News Centre report] in the conflict, especially on the part of the Syrian government. Zerrougui called on "all parties to the conflict in Syria to refrain from acts against the civilian population, including children" and encouraged all sides to also heed Ki-Moon and El Araby's request for a ceasefire. The UN reports that more than 20,000 people have been killed in Syria over the past 19 months, most of them civilians.
The Syrian government has been in conflict with the Free Syrian Army [official website] since 2011, and the international community has become increasingly concerned about the violence. On Thursday UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official website] called on the international community to work to bring an end to the Syrian conflict [JURIST report]. Her statement came after Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] reported earlier this month that the Syrian government was using cluster bombs [JURIST report] against the opposition forces. Last month UN investigatorsreported that the number and frequency of human rights violations committed by both sides [JURIST report] of the conflict were increasing rapidly.