Lull in Syria fighting needs to be longer than two weeks: UN chief

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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the opening of the 31st session of the UN Human Rights Council, and the High-level panel discussion on human rights mainstreaming. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

The cessation of hostilities in Syria appears to be largely holding, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Monday, despite reports of violations that could threaten the freshly inked accord.

Speaking in Geneva, the UN chief confirmed that there had been "some incidents" over the weekend, before adding that efforts are ongoing to ensure they do not upset the fragile two-week truce.

Daniel Johnson reports.

Ban Ki-moon was speaking after visiting the Ceasefire Task Force at the UN, which monitors incidents in the wartorn country, and works to ensure that they don't escalate.

While underlining that this is the first cessation of hostilities to hold after nearly five years of fighting, the UN chief said he hoped it would provide the opportunity to deliver humanitarian aid.

According to latest UN figures, close to 500,000 people are trapped in besieged areas.

Ban also called for an extension to the lull in fighting, beyond the agreed two-week period.

"I am urging the parties to abide by this cessation of hostilities. If they cannot keep this even two weeks, then how can they say that they are responsible for humanity? We need to extend this two-week cessation of hostilities."

During the Secretary-General's whistlestop tour of Geneva, he also announced the appointment of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra as a United Nations Global Advocate for Cultural Understanding.

Headed by maestro Daniel Barenboim, the orchestra unites musicians from Israel and Arab countries.

And while Barenboim told reporters that "music cannot bring peace", he maintained that his ensemble was an example of the "necessity of dialogue".

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva.

Duration: 1’09″

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