UN disarmament chief relays plans for chemical weapons probe to Syrian Government

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A group of Syrian refugees, making a risky journey by foot from the governorate of Daá'ra, cross at night into Jordan. © UNHCR/Jared J. Kohler

28 March 2013 – The top United Nations disarmament official today conveyed to the Syrian Government “modalities for cooperation” for the proper conduct of an investigation into allegations of chemical weapons use in the embattled country, according to a UN spokesperson.

The letter from High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Angela Kane concerning the investigation, the initial focus of which will be the alleged use of chemical weapons near Aleppo, was sent to the Syrian Deputy Prime Minister through the country’s UN Ambassador.

“The Syrian Government confirmed to Ms. Kane their desire to cooperate,” the spokesperson said. “They also confirmed to Ms. Kane that they are keen to proceed,” he added.

The next step is to await the Government’s affirmation of the plans relayed today, “following which we can expeditiously dispatch the team,” the spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, the humanitarian situation inside Syria continues to deteriorate, resulting in a continued outflow of refugees, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said today.

According to OCHA, there are now more than 1.2 million refugees who have fled Syria to Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, with 477,347 people having registered with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) since 1 January 2013.

Projections of humanitarian aid needed continue to be revised upward, given the trends, while funding of the latest Regional Response Plan stands at only 31 per cent, with a shortfall of $735 million, the Office said.

In addition to the number of refugees, the conflict in Syria, which has entered its third year, has claimed over 70,000 lives and displaced more than three million people inside the country since the uprising against President al-Assad began in March 2011.