A team of UN observers are in Douma, an opposition controlled city in Syria, to initiate dialogue with activists on the ground.
“We want to get your guidance on all the priorities that we have to address,” the Deputy Head of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS), Martin Griffith, told opposition members in Douma, located 10 kilometres north-west of Damascus.
According to UNSMIS, the aim of the visit was to assist with mediation efforts, wherever possible, and establish bridges to help build the space for a political process on the basis of six-point peace plan put forward by the Joint Special Envoy of the UN and the League of Arab States for the Syrian crisis, Kofi Annan.
The crisis in Syria, which began in March 2011 as a protest movement similar to those across the Middle East and North Africa, has claimed over 9,000 lives, mostly civilians, and displaced tens of thousands.
UN observers visited the opposition-held city of Douma to start dialogue with opposition members, as part of UNSMIS’s mediation efforts.
It led to the Security Council authorizing UNSMIS, with up to 300 unarmed military observers for an initial period of 90 days. Spread out in various locations, the observers are tasked with monitoring the cessation of violence and supporting the full implementation of the six-point plan.
UNSMIS said its observers have been carrying out encounters similar to today’s meeting in other cities across Syria, with the most advanced being in Homs and Khan Sheikhoun.
Also today, UNSMIS observers succeeded in mediating the evacuation of a family from Al Qusoor, Homs, where they had been caught in crossfire between the two sides. On Monday, in the town of Khan Sheikhoun, a UN team negotiated a swap between the Government and local authorities that led to the release of two detainees.
Joint Special Envoy Annan’s six-point plan calls for an end to violence, access for humanitarian agencies to provide relief to those in need, the release of detainees, the start of inclusive political dialogue that takes into account the aspirations of the Syrian people, and unrestricted access to the country for the international media.