World Bulletin/News Desk
Forty years may be needed to restore conflict-hit Syria unless a political solution is reached urgently, the UN's special envoy for Syria has said.
Staffan de Mistura's comments came on Thursday as Russia prepared to host a meeting between Syria's two warring sides on Jan. 26 to 29, after the second round of Geneva talks in 2014 ailed to end the conflict which has claimed 220,000 lives.
De Mistura said: "Syria has gone 40 years backwards from where it was and it may need the same amount of time to restore the country unless a political solution is reached urgently."
"Syria was expected to be one of the five top performers on the economic side in the Arab world, now it is the second before the last, just before Somalia," he said, calling for "urgent concrete action".
He added: "It is actually a reminder to myself and to all of us ... We need to take some concrete action ... because 7.6 million people are displaced, there are 3.3 million refugees and polio, typhoid and measles have returned to Syria."
"Four thousand schools are not usable and three million school children are not going to school, while 290 cultural heritage locations have been destroyed or damaged."
Syrians have overtaken Afghans as the largest refugee population, he said.
He said that the recent attack on the Charlie Hebdo headquarters in Paris and the presence of the ISIL in large parts of Syria and Iraq were a result of the Syrian crisis.
Russia's efforts to host Syrian talks between the warring sides are favorable, he said.
"Any initiative that brings together Syrian people can facilitate a dialogue and if it is among Syrians, it can also be a starting for a political dialogue," he said.
"But we need a concrete signal ... some type of serious attempt in 2015," he added.
Last Mod: 15 Ocak 2015, 21:59