Statement at the UNSC Briefing on Syria - Humanitarian and Political
Statement26 April 2022
Thank you, Madam President,
I make this statement today on behalf of the co-penholders of the Syria humanitarian file, Norway and Ireland. Many thanks, ASG Msuya, and particular thanks to Ms Shawky. Your briefings have once again made clear the breadth and depth of the humanitarian needs on the ground across Syria.
More than eleven years since its outbreak, the terrible conflict in Syria continues. In February and March alone, a further 92 civilians have been killed, including 25 children.
Not only do lives continue to be lost, but access to basic services remains perilous for many Syrians. In particular, we remain concerned regarding attacks against health care and education personnel and facilities. We call on all parties to the conflict to comply with their obligations under international law, and to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure, including those working in education, health services, the media and humanitarian operations. Such violations of international humanitarian law are unacceptable.
Humanitarian needs throughout Syria are at their highest ever level. A staggering 12 million people in Syria are food insecure, including over 75 per cent of the population of the north-west.
Food prices continue to reach record highs which we have heard in the briefing. Men, women, and children go hungry every day as families face the choice between eating or staying warm. 25 per cent of children in 58 districts across Syria are stunted. Stunting is a major public health issue which will have severe long-term impacts unless urgent action is taken. These children, who have known nothing but war, are at risk of irreversible damage to their physical and cognitive development.
Food insecurity is exacerbated by the economic crisis, which puts women and girls at particular risk. Gender based violence is a continuous threat. The increase in child marriages reflects the desperation of families to source money, while the rise in suicides among women speaks to the hopeless reality of many lives on the ground.
It is vital that the UN, and this Council, continue to strive to reach those who are experiencing such severe challenges daily across Syria.
Last July this Council collectively adopted Security Council Resolution 2585, which recalled the need for full, safe and unhindered humanitarian access.
We welcome ongoing efforts to implement that Resolution.
Ireland and Norway, as co-penholders, strongly support the use of all modalities to supply aid to the significant number of Syrians in need.
We welcome the third cross line delivery, which took place during this period. I commend OCHA and other UN agencies for their efforts in progressing cross line deliveries, and urge further progress. We call on all parties to support cross line deliveries, to grant the necessary security guarantees, and to allow the safe passage of cross line convoys and their personnel.
We welcome the significant progress made in terms of early recovery activities during the reporting period. We thank the UN for identifying significant opportunities in their programming for investment in early recovery, with 26 per cent of the total request for assistance targeting early recovery and resilience.
Major donors such as the EU are stepping up their support and investment for early recovery, and thousands of civilians are already benefiting from the rehabilitation of infrastructure and utilities, sewage networks and irrigation networks. We encourage continued efforts to increase support to early recovery in all of Syria.
Aid provided through the cross border operation also remains indispensable. As the Secretary General’s report makes clear, millions of people in the North West rely on this lifeline for vital support. It is clear that at this point, there is no alternative which could replicate the scale and scope of this operation.
Relieving the desperate and ever-growing humanitarian needs of the Syrian people will continue to be our guiding principle. Syrians, who have already borne 11 years of conflict and hardship, deserve every effort of this Council to mitigate their suffering.
I now wish to turn to the political file in my national capacity.
Thank you Geir for your briefing and your ongoing work on the implementation of Resolution 2254. We want to commend your continued efforts on the Constitutional Committee and look forward to hearing your report of the next meeting planned for the week of 28 May. Ireland renews its call on the Syrian authorities to engage in meaningful discussions leading to substantive outcomes.
During last month’s session of the Commission on the Status of Women, we heard from Syrian women. Their right to determine the future of their country cannot be overstated. For this right to be fulfilled, no less than their full, equal and meaningful participation in all aspects of the political process will suffice. We believe lasting peace can be achieved only with Syrian women in the room and at the negotiating table, and we support your engagement with the Women’s Advisory Board.
Ireland remains deeply concerned at the fragile security situation in several parts of Syria, particularly in the northwest. We renew our calls for a nationwide ceasefire and call on all parties, particularly the Syrian authorities, to cease all indiscriminate attacks and direct attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure.
It is reprehensible that grave violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, including torture and sexual and gender-based violence, continue to be documented across Syria. Ireland supports all efforts towards accountability, including through the Commission of Inquiry and the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM). We commend national efforts to assist in tackling impunity, such as the proceedings in Koblenz, Germany, which can supplement those at the international level.
The disappearance of individuals is one of the cruellest tactics of war. Ireland urges the immediate release of those arbitrarily detained, and clarification of the fate and whereabouts of the missing, whose families are entitled to know the truth. We call for immediate access by humanitarian actors to detention centres, and look forward to the Secretary General’s study on bolstering efforts to locate the missing, identify remains and support families as mandated in Assembly resolution 76/228.
In conclusion, Madam President, the political process called for in Resolution 2254 can only succeed if accompanied by true accountability and justice, which are essential if the Syrian people are to achieve a stable, just and lasting peace.