Washington: Ahead of the BRICS summit in Syria, a group of eminent people from across the world has asked the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa to show their solidarity with the people of the strife-torn country.
"As they meet in Durban, the BRICS countries should demonstrate their solidarity with the people of Syria and take meaningful steps to address their plight," more than two dozen individuals, primarily from these four countries, said in a joint letter to BRICS leaders.
"We urge to them to make a public appeal to President Assad to grant the UN unimpeded humanitarian access so that it can reach civilians from across all Syria's borders; anytime and anywhere.
"The appeal to the Syrian government could be joined by a call on armed opposition groups to grant safe passage to relief convoys and personnel into the territories within their control," the letter said.
Prominent among the signatories from India include author and journalist Pritish Nandy, the former foreign Secretary K C Singh, Anuradha M Chenoy and Kamal Mitra Chenoy from Jawaharlal Nehru University, and Director, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, Maja Daruwala.
"Achieving a lasting peace will be complicated - delivering humanitarian aid shouldn't be," K C Singh said in the letter.
South African human rights activist Zackie Achmat said the people of Syria are living a nightmare of death, injury, illegal detention, rape, torture and displacement.
"The conflict has already spilled over into neighbouring states, and poses a substantial threat to regional stability," he said.
Camila Asano, from Conectas in Brazil, said this year's Summit is more of a responsibility than an opportunity for the BRICS to pave the way for full humanitarian access to all parts of the Syrian territory.
"It is of great concern that BRICS' Summit Declaration of 2012 did not make reference to the urgent need of humanitarian assistance. Since the beginning of the crisis in Syria, emerging countries, especially the BRICS, have taken on a primary role in the international debate over it," Asano said.
"BRICS countries may not see eye-to-eye on the Syria crisis as a whole, but surely they can agree that the UN should be able to reach those in need through the quickest and easiest route," Hicks said.
"BRICS countries should make it their mission to convince President Bashar al-Assad to agree to open all of Syria's borders to aid deliveries, including the border with Turkey."
India, Brazil, and South Africa should also push at the Durban summit for their BRICS partner, Russia, to suspend all military sales and assistance to the Syrian government, Human Rights Watch said.
First Published: Tuesday, March 26, 2013, 21:05