The situation in the Middle East (Syria) - Security Council, 9083rd Meeting

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29-Jun-2022 01:48:07
Renewing resolution on cross-border assistance into Syria crucial for saving lives, supporting political solution, Special Envoy tells Security Council.

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With humanitarian needs worsening and hostilities escalating in Syria, the Special Envoy for that country told the Security Council today that renewing the resolution authorizing cross-border humanitarian aid into Syria was absolutely essential to saving lives and would support efforts towards a political solution to the conflict.

Geir Pedersen, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria, via video teleconference, said it was absolutely essential that the Council renew resolution 2585 (2021) in order to bring life-saving, and life-sustaining, humanitarian assistance to Syrians for an additional twelve months. Calling that renewal “a kernel of the constructive diplomacy on Syria”, he underscored that it would support implementing his mandate — Security Council resolution 2254 (2015) — in building a political settlement, which is the only sustainable way to end the suffering of Syrians.

He also reported that he continued to engage with the Syrian-led, Syrian-owned Constitutional Committee key players to implement a political solution and advance resolution 2254 (2015). However, at the conclusion of the Committee’s eighth meeting, he noted that there was an inability of the members to identify and conclude concrete areas of initial provisional agreement — even on points where there was potential consensus in the room. A daunting set of challenges faced the Syrian people and urgent action was needed to support the political process. “My message is simple: Don’t forget Syria,” he stressed.

Omar Alshogre, Director for Detainee Affairs at the Syrian Emergency Task Force, said that his presence in the Council chamber marked the first time since he left Syria that he could face the people who supported the regime that killed his father, oldest and youngest brother and his childhood friends. He presented 14 unfiltered messages from Syrians representing all of Syria’s 14 governorates, pleading for help and noting how powerlessly the Council acts in the face of their enemy. Other messages included the admonishment that Member States are “sitting in the Security Council, not in a carousel in Disneyland.”

Noting that the Russian Federation holds the cross-border points hostage, including Bab Al-Hawa, he called on the Council to pressure Moscow to open them. Since the start of Syria’s uprising in March 2011, the Russian Federation has vetoed more than 15 Council resolutions concerning the conflict, including on human rights violations, use of force against civilians, toxic chemical weapons, and calls for a meaningful ceasefire. He urged Member States to fight for and with the Syrian people, to free every mother, father, sister, brother and friend being held captive for simply taking to the streets, demanding their rights, and asking for accountability and justice.

As Council members took the floor, several argued that the Assad regime was continuing to oppress its citizens, while others insisted security threats were coming from armed groups. Still others highlighted efforts by Syria to normalize relations with regional neighbours and emphasized that Syria’s sovereignty needed to be respected when discussing the mandate for the border crossing.

The representative of the Russian Federation said the main security threats to Syria and the region are posed by ongoing hotbeds of terrorists that find refuge in areas not under Damascus’ control. However, the root causes of the unfurling volatile situation lie in the ongoing policy of the West to “cock their hats” at terrorist elements and to use those elements for their own geopolitical purposes. To resolve the Syrian crisis, the illegal foreign military presence in Syria must end.

The United Kingdom’s delegate, however, stressed that the Assad regime remains incapable of respecting human rights or governing in the interests of all Syrians. Voicing strong opposition to efforts that engage the regime in the absence of behavioural changes, he warned: “Doing so undermines the international community’s collective leverage and will ultimately prolong the crisis and the suffering of millions of Syrians.”

The representative of India, highlighting the urgent need to scale up humanitarian assistance and ensure necessary funding, voiced support for regional efforts to find a long-term solution to the conflict. Welcoming the progressive normalization of Syria’s relations with its Arab neighbours, he warned that acts compromising Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity will have a negative impact on the political track.

Echoing that, Iran’s representative also called for the restoration of Syrian sovereignty, voicing rejection of separatist activities in the country. Citing the crucial contribution of the Constitutional Committee, he noted his delegation was in Geneva, acting in concert with all parties to advance its aims.

Türkiye’s representative, on the other hand, said that the eighth round of Constitutional Committee talks failed to yield concrete progress. He called on the regime to stop its delaying tactics and start demonstrating sincere engagement at the next round in July. He also highlighted his country assistance to millions of Syrians within and across its borders.

Nonetheless, Syria’s representative said his Government has achieved significant progress in the last few months and was keen to support national reconciliation and local settlements. The amnesty decree issued by the President in April benefitted a host of detainees and diplomatic missions abroad and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs were receiving applications and requests in that regard. Affirming his Government’s commitment to the safe, voluntary and dignified return of refugees, he called on those States preventing their return to stop their practices.

Also speaking today were representatives of the United States, China, Brazil, Mexico, Ghana (also for Gabon and Kenya), Ireland, Norway, France, United Arab Emirates and Albania.

The meeting began at 3:36 p.m. and ended at 5:24 p.m.

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