Brahimi: Syrian women must take part in the peace process

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Syrian women protesting in May 2011

The Joint Special Representative of the United Nations and the League of Arab States for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, has decried the detention and kidnapping of women activists in Syria.

Mr Brahimi said Syria was going through a difficult and trying period and women must be given the opportunity to be heard in the peace process.

Speaking at the start of a forum for Syrian women in Geneva, Mr Brahimi highlighted the case of human rights lawyer and activist, Razan Zaitouneh, whose whereabouts remain unknown since her abduction from her home in Damascus two weeks ago.

Mr Brahimi appealed to the government and opposition forces to respect the right of women to participate in finding a peaceful settlement to the Syrian conflict.

"I hope that women who take part in this exercise will be respected by everybody including the government and opposition groups. Here we have got to mention Razan Zaitouneh and three of her colleagues who were kidnapped not very long ago and we've got to demand that they be released. Women have a role to play. Women must play that role. We all need to help women to the best of our ability. Women have the right like men to be engaged, to be supporting the government or supporting the opposition."

Speaking at the forum, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, said women and children make up more than 70 per cent of Syrians displaced by the civil war adding that their desperate plight adds to the urgency for a peaceful settlement to the conflict.

Patrick Maigua, United Nations Radio, Geneva.

Duration 1’46″

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