Ban Ki-moon: Syria situation is 'grave and deteriorating'


United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon listens as Bashar Ja'afari, Syria's ambassador to the United Nations, addresses the U.N. General Assembly on September 4, 2012 in New York City.


Spencer Platt

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the UN General Assembly on Tuesday that the humanitarian situation in Syria is "grave and deteriorating," according to Reuters.

Ban also accused both the Syrian government and the opposition of large scale human rights violations, said The Associated Press. Those violations include torture and reported execution of prisoners, and failure to protect civilians.

Ban said the UN's response to the humanitarian crisis has been constrained by underfunding, stating that the $180 million response plan was only half-funded. He stressed that the neighboring countries, which have opened their borders to Syrian refugees, urgently needed support in sheltering the influx of people, according to Reuters.

The UN said on Tuesday that more than 100,000 Syrians fled the country in just the last month, marking a sudden increase in refugees, according to The New York Times. Syrians fled as President Bashar al-Assad's government began using its air force to rout out the rebels.

More than 235,000 Syrian refugees have fled to Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, to date.

More on GlobalPost: Syria: Children killed in warplane strike on northern town of Al-Bab

Lakhdar Brahimi, the new UN and Arab League envoy for Syria, also addressed the General Assembly, calling the death toll in Syria "staggering" and the destruction "catastrophic," according to the BBC. He is planning to travel to Syria in the next few days.

Brahimi was appointed last month after the previous envoy, Kofi Annan, resigned when his peace plan failed.

Assad pledged on Tuesday to allow Red Cross workers to expand their operations in Syria, Reuters noted.

The Times reported that despite the constant bombardment by government forces, the Syrian opposition claims it is consolidating its gains. Abdel Qader Saleh, chief of the opposition's military council, said Assad's forces only control the sky. "They own nothing on the ground," he said. "Their morale is weak. And if we can attack all the military airports, it will conclude the battle."

More on GlobalPost: No Easy Day: Osama bin Laden raid tell-all contains classified info, Pentagon says (VIDEO)