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U.N. chief: 20 years after Rwanda, Syria shameful

Ban Ki-moon blamed the international community’s ‘collective failure’ to end the Syrian conflict that killed more than 140,000

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Twenty years after the Rwanda genocide, the international community’s failure to prevent atrocities in Syria is “a shameful indictment,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said.

“Our collective failure to prevent atrocities in Syria over the past three years is a shameful indictment of the international community,” Agence France-Presse quoted the U.N. chief as saying.

Ban spoke at Thursday’s New York launch of “Kwibuka 20,” a series of events to mark the 20th anniversary of the Rwanda genocide which began hours after a plane carrying the president was mysteriously shot down as it approached the capital, Kigali, on April 6, 1994.

He also mentioned rising hatred against migrants, Muslims and the Roma community in Europe.

“The Rwandan genocide was an epic failure of the international community to take action in the face of atrocity crimes,” he said.

He added: “We know more keenly than ever that genocide is not a single event, but a process that evolves over time.”

With “courage and political will, genocide can be prevented,” he explained.

The violence in Syria continues unabated where the death toll is currently more than 140,000 people killed.

Meanwhile, an estimated 800,000 people, the overwhelming majority of them ethnic Tutsis, were killed in Rwanda’s 1994 genocide.

The U.N. Security Council has been sharply divided over the Syrian conflict, but on Saturday it unanimously adopted a resolution calling for humanitarian aid convoys to be allowed access across the war-torn country.

The U.N. mediator for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, who oversaw peace talks in Geneva that ended in failure, will report to the U.N. Security Council next month, a U.N. spokesman said Thursday.

U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said Brahimi would brief the council sometime during the week of March 10-16.

Western diplomats suggested a March 14 date for the Security Council meeting and said Brahimi might also address the General Assembly.

A second round of Geneva negotiations to find a political solution to the conflict ended in discord Feb. 15.

Brahimi broke off the talks, known as Geneva II, without setting a date for another round.

(With AFP)