Statement at the UNSC Briefing on Syria - Humanitarian and Political
Statement29 August 2022
Thank you for your warm welcome this morning.
I am honoured to join you all at this table, and I looking forward to working with you in the coming months, to progress the vital work of this Council.
I deliver this statement today on behalf of Norway and Ireland, as co-penholders on the Syria Humanitarian file. Many thanks to you, ASG Msuyafor your briefing today. As ever, the severe need of those on the ground is clear.
Humanitarian needs are at their highest ever levels, and civilians continue to suffer due to armed conflict and violence. 87 civilians – including 25 children – died between 1 June and 25 July as a result of hostilities.
It is deeply disturbing that many of the attacks resulting in these deaths appeared to target civilians or take place near locations of a civilian character. We call on all parties to comply with international humanitarian law, including the prohibition on indiscriminate attacks, and the obligation to take all feasible precautions to avoid harm to civilians and civilian infrastructure.
We commend the UN and its partners for their considerable work across all 14 governorates, in a challenging humanitarian landscape. We welcome progress on early recovery, and the commitment shown to continue in this regard, including the 51 projects that contribute to the provision of electricity to support basic services. Almost 1.7 million people benefitted directly and indirectly from early recovery and resilience efforts in June and July. This important work must continue.
As co-penholders, Ireland and Norway strongly support the use of all modalities to deliver aid to the millions of Syrians in desperate need. We welcome the completion of the sixth cross-line delivery, earlier this month. We encourage continued progress on cross line missions, and again commend OCHA and other UN agencies for their significant efforts in this regard. We reiterate the call for all parties to support cross-line deliveries, including by providing timely security guarantees.
Soaring food prices, magnified by global inflation rates and the economic crisis have exacerbated food insecurity. It is extremely concerning that WFP has been forced to reduce rations to less than 1,200 calories per person in north western Syria, and to below 1,000 calories in other areas. Increased funding is urgent, not only to expand the vital work of the UN and NGOs, but to maintain the life-saving assistance currently in place.
Soaring heat and critically low water supply are placing lives at risk. Civilian access to water is curtailed in numerous areas, and a lack of irrigation is threatening crop production as well as seeds for next year’s yield, exacerbating already significant food insecurity. We knew that this season would come, just as we know that winter will present further fatal challenges.
While resolution 2642 allows the vital work of the cross border mechanism to continue for six months, it is imperative that this Council confirms the decision to further extend its mandate. The cross border mechanism remains a critical, irreplaceable lifeline for millions.
As co-penholders, Norway and Ireland will continue to be guided by the deep humanitarian needs of the people of Syria. The Council must work together with addressing these needs as our focus.
I will now focus on the political situation and make a statement in my national capacity.
Firstly, I wish to thank Special Envoy Pedersen for his briefing.
Ireland is seriously concerned about the continuing escalation of hostilities in northern Syria. We are appalled by the attack on 18 August in Al Hasakeh that killed four women and girls, and injured 11 others, and the attack on 19 August on a busy market in Al Bab city that killed at least 13 civilians, including four boys and one girl, and injured dozens of others.
Ireland unequivocally condemns deliberate attacks on civilians, and civilian harm resulting from indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks.
International humanitarian law is clear – any attack must comply with the principles of distinction, proportionality and precautions. We continue to see children in Syria paying a heavy price in the ongoing violence. We remind all parties that civilians must never be targeted, and we particularly deplore the impact of the violence on children. We call on all parties to exercise maximum restraint and comply with their obligations under international law. There can be no military solution to the conflict in Syria.
Conditions for the safe, voluntary, and dignified return of refugees remain to be fulfilled in Syria. Ireland believes it is imperative that host countries continue to uphold the principles of refugee protection.
It is deeply regrettable that last month’s ninth round of the Constitutional Committee, did not go ahead, following the decision by the Syrian Government not to participate. We reject any attempts to undermine the efforts of the Special Envoy to facilitate a Syrian-led and a Syrian-owned political process. We maintain that the Constitutional Committee should convene in Geneva as agreed by the delegations.
We urge the Syrian government to put the best interests of the Syrian people first, and to engage constructively with the Special Envoy and his efforts.
Ireland recalls the European Union’s position that there will be no normalisation with Damascus until an inclusive political solution, in line with Resolution 2254 of this Council, is firmly underway. We know the pivotal role that women have to play in building a sustainable, lasting peace for Syria: their full and meaningful participation in the political process must be enabled.
Ireland will continue to support all efforts to pursue justice and accountability for crimes committed in Syria. Lasting peace in Syria is not possible without justice. Justice for Syrians includes the transparent and verifiable release of all those arbitrarily detained, as well as the provision of information on the fate and whereabouts of missing persons. We look forward to receiving the Secretary-General’s Report soon on this very important issue.
In closing, I would like to acknowledge the work of civil society actors in Syria, and note the importance of supporting and protecting them, particularly those who continue to document casualties and violations.
Thank you Mr. President.