UN Secretary-General calls for immediate Gaza ceasefire in Cairo

Nada El-Kouny , Tuesday 20 Nov 2012

Hours before intl delegates visit Tel Aviv, Ramallah and Gaza, Ban Ki-moon demands an immediate ceasefire, fearing ground operations will result in all-out regional violence

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks during news conference with Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby after meeting to discuss the situation in Gaza, in Cairo,Tuesday (Photo: Reuters)

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon held an urgent press conference Tuesday morning in Cairo to discuss recent developments in the Gaza Strip and the ongoing conflict in Syria.

"I am here personally to appeal for the end of violence and to offer my help in the ongoing efforts to achieve the ceasefire and to sympathise with civilians caught in the conflict," Ban Ki-moon asserted.

Only hours before his visit to Tel Aviv to call for a ceasefire, Ban Ki-moon asserted: "Families and children are dying as a result of senseless violence," adding that once again Palestinians and Israelis are caught in a situation where they fear the next strike.

He asserted that immediate steps needed to be taken by all factions before further escalations - including ground operations - would take place.

"Any further escalation will put the entire region at risk. My message is clear: all sides must halt fire immediately."

El-Arabi also stressed the need for an immediate, bilateral ceasefire.

An Arab League delegation, accompanied by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and 10 Arab League ministers, is set to visit Gaza in two hours, El-Arabi stated at the conference.

Ban Ki-moon said he would be going to Tel Aviv shortly, where he is set to urge the Israeli leadership to end the violence and to reiterate that Israel must respect its obligations under international human rights law.

"While Israel has legitimate concerns over its security, which must be respected, a ground operation would be a dangerous escalation," he said.

He will also meet President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah, whose efforts for a two-state solution is "now more crucial than ever," he asserted.

Regarding Syria, Ban Ki-moon asserted, "We are greatly concerned about the continued militarisation, horrendous human rights violations and the fear that it will transform into an all-out violence of the ridden region."

With the continued deteriorating humanitarian situation, he continued, more civilians suffer as thousands are still seeking safety in neighbouring countries.

According to the Geneva Declaration accorded on 30 June, certain actions need be taken immediately, El-Arabi says. Kofi Annan, who was still mediating at the time, had called for a transitional administration in Syria.

To demand an immediate ceasefire and to put in place a transitional government were suggestions brought forth to the UN Security Council but have not been adopted until now, El-Arabi asserted.

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