UN / SYRIA HUMANITARIAN

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29-Jun-2020 00:04:00
UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock told the Security Council failure to extend the cross-border authorization into Syria “would sever the UN operation currently underway” in the country’s northwest and stressed that it would “cause suffering and death.” UNIFEED

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STORY: UN / SYRIA HUMANITARIAN
TRT: 4:00
SOURCE: UNIFEED
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 29 JUNE 2020, NEW YORK CITY

SHOTLIST:

FILE – NEW YORK CITY

1. Wide shot, United Nations headquarters exterior

29 JUNE 2020, NEW YORK CITY

2. Multiple screens, participants
3. SOUNDBITE (English) Mark Lowcock, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, United Nations:
“The unofficial rate fell to its lowest point on record, at 3,120 pounds against the dollar.
Food prices have consequently reached unprecedented levels. Market monitoring by the World Food Programme shows a 200 per cent increase in the price of the national average food basket since last year. A growing number of Syrians are no longer able to provide for themselves and their families. Many report going into debt and eating less to survive.”
4. Multiple screens, participants
5. SOUNDBITE (English) Mark Lowcock, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, United Nations:
“So, I want to be clear that the current levels of assistance delivered across the border are far from sufficient. The north-west continues to suffer a major humanitarian crisis. The cross-border operation needs to be scaled up further. A failure to extend the cross-border authorization would sever the UN operation currently underway. It would end the UN food deliveries and the support to nutrition centres. It would cause suffering and death.”
6. Multiple screens, participants
7. SOUNDBITE (English) Susannah Sirkin, Director of Policy, Physicians for Human Rights:
"Cross-line aid has clearly not compensated for that loss of the channel despite recent improvements. For the Council to expect a government responsible for igniting and perpetuating one of the worst humanitarian crises of our time to turn around and facilitate access to aid in good faith, is an exercise in self-delusion."
8. Multiple screens, participants
9. SOUNDBITE (English) Kelly Craft, Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations:
“We – and I mean we, as in each one of us – must make the right choice. We must take action to save lives because al-Assad, his regime, and his allies have failed to meet their basic responsibilities while waging war against the Syrian people. They have turned humanitarian aid into a weapon of this war for almost a decade.”
10. Multiple screens, participants
11. SOUDBITE (English) Vassily A. Nebenzia, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations:
"It's hard to understand how these measures correlate with the proclaimed aim to ensure the best options for humanitarian assistance. Don't try to convince us that unilateral sanctions and coercive measures enforced by western countries against Syria do not affect humanitarian efforts. These reassurances are hypocritical. Your waivers and exemptions do not work. With one hand you advocate humanitarian assistance, strong cross-border first and foremost, with another you chock ordinary Syrians."
12. Multiple screens, participants
13. SOUDBITE (English) Vassily A. Nebenzia, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations:
"It's also difficult to understand why the government of Syria was not a direct party to the mechanism. Russian representatives in Damascus, Geneva, and New York will no longer accept any list of what objects are for deconfliction. We suggest that from now on OCHA settles this issue of deconfliction sites with the Syrian Government. This will be the right way to proceed."
14. Multiple screens, participants
15. SOUNDBITE (English) Bashar Ja’afari, Permanent Representative of the Syrian Arab Republic to the United Nations:
"Such resolutions aim to serve the agenda of hostile governments infringe on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic on the basis of OCHA politicised allegations and distorted reports. Such resolutions ignore the tremendous efforts exerted by the institutions of the Syrian State and its partners in humanitarian work, in cooperation with ally and friendly countries."
16. Multiple screens, participants

STORYLINE:

UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock told the Security Council failure to extend the cross-border authorization into Syria “would sever the UN operation currently underway” in the country’s northwest and stressed that it would “cause suffering and death.”

Addressing the Council via teleconference today (29 Jun), Lowcock said the Syrian Government confirmed 256 COVID-19 cases, while six others were recorded in the country’s northeast, but stressed that testing was extremely limited with a little over 8,000 tests conducted so far. He said the UN continues to support COVID-19 preparedness and response measures across Syria, including the expansion of testing capacities. But he added that Syria’s health system is not prepared for a large-scale outbreak.

Lowcock said prices of food, medicines, fuel and other essential commodities are soaring across Syria. The volatile exchange rate has seen the Syrian Pound lose more value in the last six months than in the first nine years of the current crisis.

SOUNDBITE (English) Mark Lowcock, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, United Nations:
“The unofficial rate fell to its lowest point on record, at 3,120 pounds against the dollar.
Food prices have consequently reached unprecedented levels. Market monitoring by the World Food Programme shows a 200 per cent increase in the price of the national average food basket since last year. A growing number of Syrians are no longer able to provide for themselves and their families. Many report going into debt and eating less to survive.”

The Emergency Relief Coordinator said, under the cross-border operations authorized by the Security Council, 1,781 aid trucks crossed the border from Turkey into north-west Syria in May. Most of the cross-border aid is food – and it is enough for 1.3 million people every month. Still, he added, more and more children and infants are arriving at nutrition centres showing signs of chronic and acute malnutrition and mother are reporting that they are cooking weeds to supplement food rations.

Lowcock stressed that the current levels of assistance delivered across the border “are far from sufficient” adding that north-west Syria “continues to suffer a major humanitarian crisis.” He underscored that the cross-border operation “needs to be scaled up further” adding that failure to extend it would “end the UN food deliveries and the support to nutrition centres.”

Commenting on Russia’s announcement that it would have no longer participate in the humanitarian notification system, Lowcock said parties to the conflict remain bound by international humanitarian law, including the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution regardless of their participation. He said the system aims to facilitate the safe delivery of humanitarian assistance by informing parties to the conflict of facilities and movements that fulfil a humanitarian function.

Susannah Sirkin, Director of Policy at Physicians for Human Rights, said while all parties to the Syrian conflict committed violations, the Government’s deliberate targeting of healthcare facilities, criminalization of healthcare and forced displacement of millions of people have no parallel.

Sirkin said Physicians for Human Rights recorded 595 attacks on more than 350 health facilities over nine years of war. She said it is a blight on the Council’s standing that it failed to refer crimes committed in Syria to International Criminal Court (ICC).

Sirkin told that Council that according to NGOs in northeast Syria, 11 health facilities are at risk of closure and 86 others are facing shortages of essential health kits usually supplied by the UN through al-Yaroubia crossing. She said, “Cross-line aid has clearly not compensated for that loss of the channel despite recent improvements. For the Council to expect a government responsible for igniting and perpetuating one of the worst humanitarian crises of our time to turn around and facilitate access to aid in good faith, is an exercise in self-delusion.”

United States ambassador Kelly Craft said the Council must authorize the UN’s continued use of both Bab al-Hawa and Bab al-Salam for 12 months, the mandate of Resolution 2504 for 12 months, and temporarily re-open the al-Yaroubia crossing into the northeast to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

SOUNDBITE (English) Kelly Craft, Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations:
“We – and I mean we, as in each one of us – must make the right choice. We must take action to save lives because al-Assad, his regime, and his allies have failed to meet their basic responsibilities while waging war against the Syrian people. They have turned humanitarian aid into a weapon of this war for almost a decade.”

Craft said the Government’s starve and siege tactics are heavily restricting the UN’s internal crossline assistance efforts to places like northeast Syria, Rukban, and rural Damascus. She said suggestions that the US sanctions prevent humanitarian aid from reaching Syria is propaganda meant to distract from the horrors of the Government and its economic mismanagement. She added that the Caesar Act and Syria sanctions do not target medicine or food, rather they focus on significant transactions that support the Government of Syria or certain persons acting on behalf of the “regime.”

Russian ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said the cross-border mechanism has become a political tool for drawing lines of division inside Syria and used an excuse not to engage seriously on humanitarian deliveries from within Syria.

Nebenzia said he hoped to hear an assessment by Lowcock on the impact of Cesar Act on the humanitarian situation in Syria and on the lives of ordinary Syrians.

SOUDBITE (English) Vassily A. Nebenzia, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations:
"It's hard to understand how these measures correlate with the proclaimed aim to ensure the best options for humanitarian assistance. Don't try to convince us that unilateral sanctions and coercive measures enforced by western countries against Syria do not affect humanitarian efforts. These reassurances are hypocritical. Your waivers and exemptions do not work. With one hand you advocate humanitarian assistance, strong cross-border first and foremost, with another you chock ordinary Syrians."

The Russian ambassador said the deconfliction mechanism has no legal standing adding that some of the deconfliction sites were used as terrorist headquarters or hideouts and could not be granted humanitarian status.

SOUDBITE (English) Vassily A. Nebenzia, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations:
"It's also difficult to understand why the government of Syria was not a direct party to the mechanism. Russian representatives in Damascus, Geneva, and New York will no longer accept any list of what objects are for deconfliction. We suggest that from now on OCHA settles this issue of deconfliction sites with the Syrian Government. This will be the right way to proceed."

Nebenzia called on the Security Council to depoliticize the humanitarian file in Syria and ensure humanitarian aid is delivered in accordance with humanitarian principals

Syrian ambassador Bashar Ja’afari said the Governments of some western countries turned a deaf ear to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s call for a waiver on unilateral coercive measures and rather tightened them. He said these countries failed the test of credibility and humanity.
Ja’afari said the Governments of some of the Security Council members have insisted on hostile policies towards Syria and are therefore unable to play any positive and constructive role in the country.

The Syrian ambassador said his Government rejects a resolution to extend cross-border humanitarian deliveries which he said aims “to serve the agenda of hostile governments infringe on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic on the basis of OCHA politicised allegations and distorted reports.” He said such resolutions “ignore the tremendous efforts exerted by the institutions of the Syrian State and its partners in humanitarian work, in cooperation with ally and friendly countries."
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