NEW YORK- United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has accused the Syrian government of killing the most civilians during the country’s five-year war and said “powerful patrons that keep feeding the war machine also have blood on their hands”.
In his final address to an annual gathering of world leaders at the UN on Tuesday, Ban said the Syrian government “continues to barrel bomb neighborhoods and systematically torture thousands of detainees”.
Speaking after the Syrian government declared the US-Russian ceasefire over and resumed air strikes, Ban denounced the bombing of a humanitarian aid convoy headed for Aleppo in strong terms, his voice tense with anger.
“Just when we think it cannot get any worse, the bar of depravity sinks lower,” Ban said in his last speech as leader of the organization after a decade in the job, much of it preoccupied with Syria.
“The humanitarians delivering lifesaving aid were heroes,” he added. “Those who bombed them were cowards.”
The air strike hit a 31-truck convoy late on Monday, killing as many as 12 people. The UN suspended all further aid convoy movements “as an immediate security measure”.
David Swanson, a spokesman from the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Aid, said the airstrike was a “devastating blow” for the Syrian people.
In a statement, Syria s Foreign Ministry snapped back, condemning Ban s address and saying he “has deviated from its role in finding just solutions for international problems”.
It said the Syrian people possessed the right to self-determination and “do not need Ban s advice”. It added that the international body had failed to resolve any conflicts during Ban’s era.
In his speech, Ban also expressed regret for sexual abuse by UN peacekeepers in Central African Republic and an outbreak of cholera in Haiti. He said these two matters had “tarnished the reputation of the United Nations and, far worse, traumatized many people we serve”.
The United Nations currently has 106,000 troops and police serving in 16 peacekeeping missions. It assumed authority from African Union troops in September 2014.
“Protectors must never become predators,” he said.