UN / SYRIA

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25-Nov-2020 00:03:09
UN Deputy Special Envoy for Syria Khawla Matar informed the Security Council that plans are being finalized for the fourth session of the Constitutional Committee Small Body to convene from 30 November to 4 December in Geneva. UNIFEED

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STORY: UN / SYRIA
TRT: 3:09
SOURCE: UNIFEED
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LANGUAGE: ARABIC / ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 25 NOVEMBER 2020, NEW YORK CITY

SHOTLIST:

FILE - NEW YORK CITY

1. Wide shot, UN headquarters exterior

25 NOVEMBER 2020, NEW YORK CITY

2. Multiple screens participants
3. SOUNDBITE (English) Khawla Mattar, Deputy Special Envoy for Syria, United Nations:
“We all know that the Committee has not yet made the kind of progress we had hoped. But the commitment of the Syrian parties to the package of two meetings and with agreed agendas presents an important opportunity for Committee members to engage in good faith in a businesslike manner to move forward the political process. If these sessions can proceed in a substantive manner and in a spirit of compromise, we believe it would help to build trust and confidence and make some progress.”
4. Multiple screens participants
5. SOUNDBITE (English) Ramesh Rajasingham, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Ad Interim:
“As the weather gets colder over the coming weeks, and with continued fuel shortages, we expect people will, as they did last year, resort to burning anything they can find to try and keep themselves and their children warm, risking tent fires and poisoning from toxic fumes.”
6. Multiple screens participants
7. SOUNDBITE (English) Ramesh Rajasingham, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Ad Interim:
“Madam President, what this means, quite simply, is that people are increasingly unable to feed their families. Today an estimated 9.3 million people in Syria are food insecure – that’s 1.4 million more people than a year ago and more than at any other time during the crisis. About 1 million of them are severely food insecure – twice as many as last year – and we expect this number to increase.”
8. Multiple screens participants
9. SOUNDBITE (English) Ramesh Rajasingham, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Ad Interim:
“But let me be clear: health services are extremely weak across the country and are being stretched to new extremes under the public health impact of COVID-19. Gaps in assistance and shortages of medical supplies and personnel are prevalent everywhere. In Dar’a, in the south, the National Hospital had thirty doctors pre-crisis, today it has only three – 1/10th of the previous number, with women giving birth in rooms with other patients due to lack of beds.”
10. Multiple screens participants
11. SOUNDBITE (Arabic) Bashar Ja’afari, Permanent Representative of the Syrian Arab Republic to the United Nations:
"This condemned action represents a violation of my country's sovereignty, a hinderance to the partnership between the Syrian Government and OCHA, support for terrorism, and a violation of the Council's resolutions related to combatting terrorism and the principles of humanitarian work listed in General Assembly resolution 46/182. We look forward for the Secretary-General and his Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs to take appropriate action to ensure an apology to the Syrian Government, to investigate this action, and to punish those who committed it. Those who cooperate with a terrorist entity must be held accountable no matter who they may be."
12. Multiple screens participants

STORYLINE:

UN Deputy Special Envoy for Syria Khawla Matar informed the Security Council that plans are being finalized for the fourth session of the Constitutional Committee Small Body to convene from 30 November to 4 December in Geneva.

Addressing a virtual meeting of the Council today (25 Nov), Matar said the Co-Chairs further agreed to hold a fifth session in January 2021. She said, “We all know that the Committee has not yet made the kind of progress we had hoped. But the commitment of the Syrian parties to the package of two meetings and with agreed agendas presents an important opportunity for Committee members to engage in good faith in a businesslike manner to move forward the political process. If these sessions can proceed in a substantive manner and in a spirit of compromise, we believe it would help to build trust and confidence and make some progress.”

The Deputy Special Envoy added that a constitutional track on its own cannot resolve the crisis, and the Syrian-led committee’s work needs to be accompanied by mutual and reinforcing steps by Syrian and international players on the range of issues contained in Resolution 2254.

Matar noted that, while falling short of the nationwide ceasefire called for by Resolution 2254, a fragile and relative calm continues broadly to hold in Syria. That calm however continues to be ever more challenged, raising concerns, she added.

The acting Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Ramesh Rajasingham, told the Council that 6.7 million people in Syria are internally displaced and about a third of them lack proper shelter. He estimated that more than three million people across all of Syria will need assistance this winter because of their shelter needs.

Rajasingham said, “As the weather gets colder over the coming weeks, and with continued fuel shortages, we expect people will, as they did last year, resort to burning anything they can find to try and keep themselves and their children warm, risking tent fires and poisoning from toxic fumes.”

The UN official also noted that the price of a national reference food basket increased by 247 per cent since October last year and is now higher than at any point since WFP started price monitoring in Syria in 2013. He stressed that this means “that people are increasingly unable to feed their families.” He added, “Today an estimated 9.3 million people in Syria are food insecure – that’s 1.4 million more people than a year ago and more than at any other time during the crisis. About 1 million of them are severely food insecure – twice as many as last year – and we expect this number to increase.”

Rajasingham said efforts continue to bridge gaps in medical assistance in north-east Syria. He noted that all 17 hospitals and 106 primary healthcare facilities in the north-east have been reached with medical supplies on at least one occasion, however access has been inconsistent.

The deputy humanitarian coordinator said, “Health services are extremely weak across the country and are being stretched to new extremes under the public health impact of COVID-19. Gaps in assistance and shortages of medical supplies and personnel are prevalent everywhere. In Dar’a, in the south, the National Hospital had thirty doctors pre-crisis, today it has only three – 1/10th of the previous number, with women giving birth in rooms with other patients due to lack of beds.”

Syrian ambassador Bashar Ja’afari said the recent international conference held in Damascus represented a major step forward for the safe and dignified return of refugees and displaced persons. He told the Council that, in the outcome document, participants rejected the unilateral coercive measures imposed on the country, foreign occupation and the pillaging of its resources. He said participants reaffirmed their commitment to a Syrian-owned and led political solution and agreed that the Constitutional Committee must carry out its work without outside interference or the imposition of fabricated timelines.

The Syrian ambassador regretted that UN participation was limited to an observer status due to what he described as US instructions. He said that at the time when the UN was not represented at the conference, a UN delegation entered Idlib illegally without prior authorization from the Syrian government. He told the Council that the delegation was accompanied by what was described as security personnel, who were part of the terrorist Al Nusra Front.

The Syrian ambassador said, "This condemned action represents a violation of my country's sovereignty, a hinderance to the partnership between the Syrian Government and OCHA, support for terrorism, and a violation of the Council's resolutions related to combatting terrorism and the principles of humanitarian work listed in General Assembly resolution 46/182. We look forward for the Secretary-General and his Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs to take appropriate action to ensure an apology to the Syrian Government, to investigate this action, and to punish those who committed it. Those who cooperate with a terrorist entity must be held accountable no matter who they may be."
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