Denmark joins UN observer mission in Syria

The UN says civilian observers are essential for overseeing Syria’s military de-escalation

April 20th, 2012 6:59 pm| by admin

Danish observers will be deployed to Syria next week as part of a United Nations plan to maintain a tenuous ceasefire between the Syrian army and anti-government fighters.

On Wednesday, the Foreign Ministry confirmed that ten of the 30 unarmed observers that will be sent to Syria next week will be Danish, with another ten being drafted in if needed. There are currently six UN observers in Syria though the UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon stated yesterday that 300 would be needed to adequately supervise the Syrian forces and ensure they are abiding by the plan.

The foreign minister, Villy Søvndal (Socialistisk Folkeparti), said in a press release that the move to send observers chimed well with the Danish position of increasing pressure on the Syrian regime.

“When the UN asked Denmark to contribute to the observer mission, we said yes without hesitation,” Søvndal said. “With our contribution we are sending a clear message to [UN and Arab League peace envoy to Syria, Kofi] Annan that we stand behind his efforts to find a political and peaceful solution to the unfortunate situation in Syria.”

The defence minister, Nick Hækkerup (Socialdemokraterne), also stated that the observers were vital for monitoring the UN’s ceasefire demands.

“The goal of the mission is, first and foremost, to be observers and confirm the reports of violence," Hækkerup said. "We want the Syrian government to keep its promises of a ceasefire.”

The UN estimates that over 9,000 people have died and approximately 230,000 have been displaced as a result of the conflict in Syria, which started after a crackdown by President Assad al-Bashar on anti-government protestors.

The observers form part of Annan's six-point peace plan that calls on the Syrian government to end fighting and pull troops out of civilian-populated areas.

On Thursday, the UN and the Syrian government agreed to the terms of the observer mission in Damascus that, according to a UN statement, “is vital if the lives of ordinary Syrian families are to slowly return to normal”.

But with continuing reports of violence across the country, many, including Ki-moon, remain convinced that Syria has not done enough to end the violence in the country.

“Despite assurances from the government, there has been no meaningful progress on the ground,” Moon told journalists in New York yesterday. “This is unacceptable.”

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