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Statement at the UNSC Briefing on Syria - Political & Humanitarian

Thank you, Mr President.


I deliver this statement on behalf of Norway and Ireland, as co-penholders on the Syria Humanitarian file. We thank Director Ghelani for your briefing today.


In this reporting period alone, 92 civilians were killed as a result of hostilities, including 35 children. Let us consider that for a moment. 35 children have been killed in the last 60 days in Syria. 35 young lives, lost.


It is unacceptable that many attacks appear to be directed against civilians, or carried out near locations of a civilian character.

Further, we are deeply worried by the significant increase in child recruitment and use of children in armed conflict. We call upon all parties to engage with the UN with the aim of signing and implementing action plans to strengthen the protection of children.


We repeat our call on all parties to comply with international humanitarian law, including the obligation to take all feasible precautions to avoid harm to civilians and civilian infrastructure. We also call on all states with influence over parties to the conflict to be proactive and also to take all possible steps that may lead to increased protection and safety of the civilian population in Syria.


Cholera has been confirmed in all governorates of Syria. Yet a further challenge to a health system that has been decimated by more than 11 years of conflict. We welcome efforts of the UN and partners to respond to the outbreak, which emphasises the difficulties posed by the severe water shortages throughout Syria.


Not only are water shortages threatening lives now, but they risk exacerbating a food and protection crisis which is already desperate. The lack of available water gravely increases the vulnerability of affected communities.


Levels of acute and severe food insecurity are staggering. As stated by the Secretary General, Syrians can afford only one sixth of the food they could purchase in 2019.


Negative coping mechanisms, which particularly impact women and children, continue to rise. Children are withdrawn from school to help support their families – forced to work or forced into early marriage. Suicide rates among young women and girls are rising. The destructive effects of nearly twelve years of conflict is robbing them of their futures.


Humanitarian needs are at their highest ever levels.  Syrians are once again facing into a bitter winter. 6 million people are in need of winter assistance, a figure that has grown by 30 per cent since last year. We know that winter will threaten the lives of millions of Syrian men, women, and children.


Soaring fuel prices mean that families will once again be forced to choose between keeping warm or eating. Many are living in overcrowded, aged tents, exposed to harsh weather. They urgently need help.


Early recovery support is changing lives and building resilience - from the rehabilitation of hospitals, bakeries, water systems, and classrooms, to the installation of solar systems. Since January, over 8 million Syrians have benefitted directly and indirectly from early recovery projects which are taking place in every governorate of the country.


Over 40 per cent of projects which had received funding by late August contribute to the provision of electricity to support basic needs or electricity in households.


Norway and Ireland strongly support the use of all modalities to reach the many Syrians in need across the country. We welcome the completion of the 8th cross line delivery. The efforts of the UN and humanitarian partners with regard to cross line deliveries are clear, and we encourage them to continue.


The UN cannot increase the rates of cross line deliveries by itself. We call on all parties to support cross line deliveries, including by providing timely security guarantees. 


The cross border operation remains an absolutely critical lifeline, for which there is currently no substitute. It is imperative that this Council works together to confirm the continuation of the highly monitored operation at Bab Al Hawa.


I reiterate the commitment of Norway and Ireland to support the people of Syria. Our collective efforts on this Council must be dedicated to them, so that they can hope for a better future.


Mr. President,


I will now address the political situation on behalf of Ireland.


I want to thank Special Envoy Pederson for the update on your recent travel, and for your continued efforts on step-for-step confidence building measures.


EU Foreign Ministers last January agreed to engage in this process, while Damascus and its allies have not, despite repeated calls by Ireland and others. 


Ireland calls for the calming of tensions and hostilities between the belligerent forces across Syria. We call on them to exercise the utmost restraint to spare civilians any further horrors. There must be a nationwide ceasefire, in line with Resolution 2254 of this Council.


Mr. President, only a political solution can bring the stability and security needed for the Syrian people. Ireland supports the efforts of the Special Envoy to resolve the issues that are preventing the holding of a ninth session of the Constitutional Committee in Geneva.


We call for full and meaningful engagement by Damascus and reiterate that the Committee should meet in Geneva. Any new Constitution and related political process must be fully inclusive and benefit from the full, equal and meaningful engagement of women. 


Ireland reiterates our call on Damascus for transparency on the release of arbitrarily detained people, in particular on the implementation of the Amnesty Decree announced last April. The Secretary-General’s Report documents that state detainees are dying in custody from alleged natural causes, with families denied the opportunity to question the cause of death or even know the whereabouts of their loved one’s body. 


This is unconscionable. The reported arbitrary arrest of 19 civilians during the reporting period is very troubling. Ireland thanks the Secretariat for the Secretary-General’s study on missing persons in Syria, and calls on the international community to support a process to enable Syrian families to find answers on the fate of their loved ones.


 Thank you, Mr President.

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