'Humanitarian catastrophe' in Syria - UNFriday 19 April 2013 16.46
The United Nations Security Council has described the civil war in Syria as a "humanitarian catastrophe".
The 15-nation council unanimously "denounced the widespread violations of human rights by the Syrian authorities, as well as any human rights abuses by armed groups".
The statement marks a rare agreement by the Security Council members on Syria, an issue that has divided them for two years.
Over a million people have fled to other states in the Middle East and North Africa to escape the violence since the conflict began.
The UN said Syrian families have been burned in their homes, people bombed waiting for bread, children tortured, raped and murdered and cities reduced to rubble in Syria's two-year-old war that has sparked a humanitarian catastrophe.
The United Nations says the war in Syria, which began as peaceful protests that turned violent when President Bashar al-Assad tried to crush the revolt, has claimed more than 70,000 lives.
The council also "condemned the widespread violations of human rights by the Syrian authorities, as well as any human rights abuses by armed groups" and said there should be "no impunity for serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law".
Syria's UN Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari blamed terrorism and sanctions imposed by the European Union, the United States and others for the plight of its people and accused neighbouring countries of preventing refugees from returning to Syria.