UNITED NATIONS (AP) — World leaders meeting at the United Nations starting Monday will be trying to make progress on two intractable problems at the top of the global agenda — the biggest refugee crisis since World War II and the Syrian conflict now in its sixth year which has claimed over 300,000 lives.
Against a backdrop of rising ethnic and religious tension, fighting elsewhere in the Mideast and Africa, extremist attacks across the world and a warming planet, there are plenty of other issues for the 135 heads of state and government and more than 50 ministers expected to attend to try to tackle.
“It’s no secret there’s a lot of fear out there,” U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power told reporters Thursday, citing the uncertainties sparked by Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, the threat posed by the Islamic State extremist group, and attacks in many parts of the world by IS and other terrorist groups.
But Syria, where a tense cease-fire brokered by Moscow and Washington went into effect last Monday, remains at the top of the agenda at the U.N. General Assembly’s annual ministerial meeting. An apparently errant airstrike on Saturday in which the U.S. military may have unintentionally struck Syrian troops while carrying out a raid against the Islamic State group could deal a crushing blow to the U.S.-Russian-brokered cease-fire. The cease-fire, which does not apply to attacks on IS, has largely held for five days despite dozens of alleged violations on both sides.