UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations yesterday named Dutch official Sigrid Kaag to head the risky international mission to eradicate Syria’s chemical weapons.
UN leader Ban Ki-moon also said he was stepping up efforts to convene a Syria peace conference, sending special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi to the region for talks with key governments.
Kaag, a UN assistant secretary general who speaks fluent Arabic and has wide Middle East experience, will head a joint UN-Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons mission to destroy poison arms belonging to Damascus.
The UN Security Council has set a deadline of mid-2014 for the mission, but experts say the approximately 100-strong team to be assembled faces an uphill struggle in the conflict-stricken country. About 60 experts are already in Syria dismantling its arms production and chemical mixing facilities. But, with about 1,000 tonnes of chemicals to be eradicated, no disarmament mission of this scope has ever been carried out in the midst of a war.
“We have no illusions on the challenges ahead,” Ban said alongside Kaag.AFP