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Statement by Ambassador Byrne Nason at the UNSC Briefing on Syria - Humanitarian and Political

Merci beaucoup Mr. President,

 

I make this statement today on behalf of the co-penholders of the Syria humanitarian file, Norway and Ireland. I want to say many thanks Martin, for your comprehensive briefing, which has underlined the severity of the humanitarian need and the complex challenge of delivering humanitarian response throughout Syria. Geir, it is good to see you with us today. I will address the political aspects later in my remarks. I want to say thank you to Dr. Ballour for her remarks- your messages to us were very clear.

 

Ireland and Norway also wish to thank the Secretary General for the two reports furnished to Council Members last week. We welcome in particular the comprehensive report on humanitarian operations in Syria, issued in accordance with Security Council Resolution 2585, which was unanimously adopted by consensus of all Council Members in July of this year. This resolution extended the authorisation to use the border crossing at Bab al-Hawa until 10 July 2022, subject to the issuance of this report. 

 

 

This report illustrates welcome progress in a number of important areas, including with regard to cross line deliveries. We have seen deliveries take place throughout Syria, in spite of constraints and challenges to access, which vary greatly by region.

 

The second interagency cross line delivery to the North West, which took place on 9th December marks another significant and positive step. We welcome the commencement last week of the distribution of the much-needed humanitarian aid. We commend the efforts made by the UN and WFP to develop a comprehensive plan for cross line deliveries, and we call on all parties to facilitate their continuation.

 

Ireland and Norway, as co-penholders on the Syria humanitarian file, have repeatedly emphasised our support for all modalities to provide humanitarian aid to meet the needs of people across Syria.

 

Our sole objective is ensuring that humanitarian aid reaches all people in need.

 

As the report makes clear, the cross border humanitarian operation at Bab Al Hawa remains an absolutely critical lifeline. As the Secretary General has told us, this operation is the essential channel for the UN to provide lifesaving assistance at the scale required to support  the significant and growing humanitarian needs of 3.4 million people in need in north west Syria.

 

Ireland and Norway welcome the substantive update on the considerable work taking place to ensure transparency in operations throughout Syria. We commend OCHA for the systems you have put in place to safeguard humanitarian principles and ensure accountability of humanitarian action at all stages.  The cross border operation in the North West is one of the most heavily scrutinized and monitored aid operations in the world, ensuring the humanitarian nature of all deliveries. The role of the UN Monitoring Mechanism is critical in this work.

 

We also note and commend the work of OCHA in delivering early recovery activities and building resilience to prevent a further increase of people in need, as well as reduce immediate and protracted humanitarian needs by strengthening the self-reliance of affected populations, and improving individual and community welfare.

 

Mr. President,

 

Our focus of attention must be the worsening hardship facing the men, women and children of Syria. We heard from the Secretary General this month that the combination of ongoing hostilities, economic crisis, water shortages, and COVID-19 have driven humanitarian needs for millions of vulnerable people to some of the highest levels seen since the conflict began. Those needs continue to grow as the people of Syria grapple with another bitter winter, leaving 4.5 million people in need of winterisation support, many without the bare essentials they need to survive.

 

We in this Council must continue to work together to ensure that these great humanitarian needs are met.

 

We know that only political progress can bring the conflict, and the long nightmare of the Syrian people, to an end. Ireland and Norway strongly support UN-led efforts to find a sustainable political solution, which is key to transforming the humanitarian situation on the ground. In all of this, we must keep the Syrian people at the heart of our efforts in this Council.

 

Martin, we continue to fully support you and your team as you work to deliver a lifeline to so many in need.

 

 

 

Mr. President, I would now like to make a statement in my national capacity on political issues.

 

Thank you again Geir for your briefing earlier. I commend your tireless efforts on the implementation of Resolution 2254, which offers a clear, agreed blueprint for delivering a long-term political solution for the people of Syria.  I commend you in particular for your ongoing engagement with the Syrian Women’s Advisory Board, and other civil society organisations.  This year, the Council has heard directly from Syrian women, including from Rouba Mhaissen during Ireland’s Presidency.  Far too often, these voices are silenced and marginalised by the Syrian authorities.

 

Ireland once again urges the Syrian authorities to engage meaningfully with the opposition and with civil society members of the Constitutional Committee.   

 

Mr. President,

 

Sadly, 2021 has marked another year of conflict, chaos and catastrophe for the people of Syria. Ireland calls on all parties to the Syrian conflict, to refrain from violence, to de-escalate tensions and to exercise maximum restraint.  

 

We are deeply concerned at the continued violence in the northwest, particularly the abhorrent and sustained impact on civilians and civilian objects, which this Council must unreservedly condemn.  We repeat our calls for a nationwide ceasefire, in line with Resolution 2254. 

 

I want to commend Estonia on last month’s Arria meeting which highlighted the need for accountability and we heard the powerful testimony from victims.  Ireland fully supports the work of the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism to assist in the investigation and prosecution of persons responsible for the most serious crimes under international law.  We also strongly support the work of the Independent international Commission of Inquiry, which has outlined appalling human rights violations including arbitrary detention, disappearances, and sexual and gender based violence. 

 

Ireland calls on the parties to the conflict, especially the Syrian authorities, to release detainees and abductees, and to take meaningful action on missing persons. 

 

Finally, Mr. President,

 

We listened with interest to the Special Envoy’s ideas on “steps for steps”.  Ireland is prepared to consider proposals, which would enable the people of Syria to determine their own future. This would require a profound change of approach by the Syrian authorities. Such a change could help realise this Council’s vision of the restoration of Syria’s sovereignty, unity, independence and prosperity for the benefit of all its people.

 

Merci beaucoup Mr. President.

 

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