United Nations under-secretary- general for peacekeeping operations Hervé Ladsous said Tuesday that UN observers in Syria have had an impact on the situation on the ground, although their deployment is not yet complete.
Ladsous made the statement to the press during a briefing on the progress of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS), which was established by the UN Security Council on April 21 in order to monitor a cease-fire between Syrian government troops and opposition forces and support a six-point plan for peace in the country created by Kofi Annan, the UN-Arab League joint special envoy for Syria.
"The fact is that the numbers are still small at the moment but already they have had a visible impact, an effective impact on the ground," Ladsous said.
He explained that UNSMIS currently has small teams of observers on the ground in Damascus, Idlib, Homs, Hama, and Daraa.
"In each of these places they reach out to all of the parties and they conduct mobile patrols regularly," he said. "Today we have 24 observers on the ground and I fully expect this number to increase rapidly over the next two weeks so that UNSMIS will build up to full operational strength by the end of May."
The Security Council resolution 2043, which created the observer mission, called for up to 300 unarmed and impartial observers in Syria in addition to the necessary civilian component of UNSMIS.
According to Ladsous, the mission has the potential to make a sizable contribution to peace in Syria over time.
"Observers, of course see what is going on but also their presence has the potential to change the political dynamics. They help build calm and calm helps the political process that Mr. Annan is leading and that process in turn, we hope will bring lasting peace to a democratic Syria," he said.
Ladsous called on all parties in Syria to facilitate a lasting cessation of violence.
"More bombs, more weapons, more violence could only increase the tensions and add to an already very considerable toll of human lives," he said. "So I and we all call upon all parties in Syria to ensure that the cessation of violence is indeed observed."
The welfare of the Syrian people, Ladsous noted, is at the center of the work of UNSMIS in the region.
"The people of Syria, have suffered too much and this critical opportunity must not be lost by all sides in order to end the armed violence and move towards a political solution," he said. " It is time now to silence the guns and to cease all abuses and that is the work we are engaged in."