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Statement by Minister Flanagan on Aleppo, Syria

Minister Charles Flanagan, International Law, Funding, Press Releases, Middle East and North Africa, 2016

 

Statement by Minister Flanagan on Aleppo, Syria

I am extremely concerned by reports of renewed violence in East Aleppo, and the suspension by the Syrian regime of the evacuation of civilians. The protection of the civilian population is a binding legal obligation for all parties and must be observed in Aleppo. The forced displacement of a population is in itself also a violation of international law, however, I recognise that the alternative of a mass slaughter of thousands of Syrians is a far more horrendous crime. I urge all sides to urgently resume the evacuation operation now.

I acknowledge the deep concern of the Irish people for the plight of the Syrian people, and particularly the people of Aleppo, at this appalling time. The besieging of the population and the scale of the death, injury and destruction that is being wrought in Syria at this time is truly appalling. Ireland has provided an unprecedented scale of humanitarian support to the victims of this conflict, which reached €67 million this week. That aid is providing vital food and shelter for those who have fled their homes in fear of their lives.

At political level, I strongly support the efforts of the UN Secretary General and the EU to end the conflict. All of our diplomatic and humanitarian actions are in support of a free and peaceful Syria. In Brussels on Monday, EU Foreign Affairs Ministers discussed Syria. There was a consensus that the EU must press Russia and Iran to use their influence on the Assad regime to ensure the illegal siege of the civilian population in Eastern Aleppo ends. At my direction, senior officials in my Department have reinforced the EU’s actions by conveying these views and the Irish Government’s concerns to the Russian and Iranian Ambassadors.

The conflict that is consuming Syria has its origins in the violent repression imposed by Bashar al Assad’s regime. The UN’s Commission of Inquiry has repeatedly made public the monstrous actions of the regime, publishing findings of war crimes and crimes against humanity. I have stated many times our position that Bashar al Assad and his regime must be held accountable for these actions. There can be no impunity for such grotesque crimes.

I strongly support the implementation of UN Security Council resolution 2254 which demands an end to violence; release of political prisoners; formation of a transitional governing body with executive powers and a constitutional reform process.

ENDS
Press Office
16 December 2016