UN observers visit Homs to monitor shaky Syria truce
Published: 21st Apr 2012 14:28:20
UN monitors in Syria have visited the battered city of Homs amid a rare lull in fighting between troops and rebels.
The observers met the governor and saw parts of the city, a UN spokesman said.
Activists say the violence stopped for the first time in weeks just to make it look as though the Syrian government is observing a UN-backed truce, and that fighting will resume soon.
The visit came ahead of a Security Council vote on boosting the number of UN observers in Syria to 300.
The draft resolution would see military observers and civilian experts initially deployed for three months.
A handful of monitors are already in Syria to monitor the fragile ceasefire brokered by international envoy Kofi Annan.
Homs has been a leading focus of unrest in the 13-month uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.
"A team of observers have been sent to Homs and met the governor," UN spokesman Khaled al-Masri said on Saturday.
But rebels said tanks had been only temporarily hidden out of sight and shelling would resume as soon as the observers left.
"It is very clear that the Syrian government can stop the violence whenever it wants at anytime in the country," Homs opposition activist Walid al-Fares told Reuters news agency.
1. Syrian-led political process to address the aspirations and concerns of the Syrian people
2. UN-supervised cessation of armed violence in all its forms by all parties to protect civilians
3. All parties to ensure provision of humanitarian assistance to all areas affected by the fighting, and implement a daily two-hour humanitarian pause
4. Authorities to intensify the pace and scale of release of arbitrarily detained persons
5. Authorities to ensure freedom of movement throughout the country for journalists
6. Authorities to respect freedom of association and the right to demonstrate peacefully
Although overall violence has fallen since the truce was signed by the UN and Syria on Thursday, many violations have been reported by activists and journalists on the ground.
According to Reuters news agency, at least 23 people were killed on Friday, 10 of them in a roadside bomb targeting security forces and most of the others in army shelling on the city of Homs.
The Damascus authorities say they are fighting armed terrorist groups and that the ceasefire allows them to respond to attacks.
The UN estimates that government forces have killed more than 9,000 people in the uprising. Syria says foreign-backed militants have killed more than 2,600 soldiers and police.
On Friday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had called for a global arms embargo and further sanctions if the government continues to break the ceasefire.
The international community has also been looking at ways of getting humanitarian aid to Syria, with diplomats meeting in Geneva on Friday to discuss the situation.
They agreed to a draft plan to provide $180m (£112m) for food, medicine and other supplies to about one million people inside Syria. That comes on top of the aid that is being delivered to refugees who have fled to neighbouring countries.
The plan still needs Syria's approval, with the key issue being the number of aid workers allowed into the country.
Foreign ministers from the Friends of Syria coalition, meeting in Paris on Thursday evening, agreed that the ceasefire and Mr Annan's peace plan were the "last hope" of avoiding civil war in Syria.
The Friends of Syria group includes Western and Arab nations, but not Russia or China, who have blocked previous attempts to introduce UN sanctions.
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Harvard CitationBBC News, 2012. UN observers visit Homs to monitor shaky Syria truce [Online] (Updated 21st Apr 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1423788/UN-observers-visit-Homs-to-monitor-shaky-Syria-truce [Accessed 24th Jul 2014]
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With the doors to its brand new £1million training centre officially open, one of the UK's leading apprentice training providers, Bristol based S&B Automotive Academy, is showcasing its world-class facilities by launching a series of foreign student exchanges for the first time in its 41-year history. To get a flavour of what life is like as an apprentice in the UK, the Academy hosted 16 apprentice engineers and bus drivers from the G9 Automotive College in Hamburg, Germany, as part of a Europe-wide vocational training initiative called the ‘Leonardo Programme’ with support from the European Social Fund. In a reciprocal arrangement, S&B will be sending nine apprentices to Germany during February 2012 so that they can get an appreciation of life in the automotive industry on the Continent. A further three German exchange groups are being planned for next year. Designed to assist the development of vocational skills and training across Europe, including work placements for trainees, the Leonardo Programme has a budget of €1.75bn, which is helping to encourage UK organisations to work with their counterparts abroad. In what is expected to be another challenging year for employers in the UK automotive sector, S&B’s Chief Executive, Jon Winter, claims that the exchange initiative will bring many benefits to the Academy and its apprentices: “In a world of global automotive brands, it’s important for our learners to understand the international context of the industry they have chosen to make their career. This new exchange programme will enable apprentices and Academy staff alike to achieve a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities within the automotive arena in Europe. With the Academy’s influence also extending to the USA and Asia, there’s every possibility that this initiative could move further afield in the future.” Continued Winter: “The need for skilled technicians across the world is on the increase and we actively encourage our apprentices to look at broader horizons during their training. Many of them have already learned the phrase ‘Vorsprung durch Gelehrtheit’, quite simply, ‘Advancement through learning.” In the 2010/11 academic year, S&B doubled the number of successful Apprenticeships over the previous year with some 350 apprentices graduating from the Academy. At the same time, achievement levels reached an all-time high with an overall success rate of 85%. For those learners on the Advanced Apprenticeship three-year programme, success rates were even higher, at over 98%. PHOTO CAPTION: As part of their exchange visit, S&B Automotive Academy arranged for the German apprentices to visit Hampshire bus operator, Bluestar, at its Barton Park depot. The students are pictured with S&B’s Andy West (3rd right) and Steve Prewett, Bluestar’s Area Engineering Manager (2nd right). Ends http://www.sandbaa.com