Statement by Ambassador Kelly at the UNSC Briefing on Syria - Humanitarian and Political
Statement25 February 2022
Thank you, Mr President,
I make this statement today on behalf of the co-penholders of the Syria humanitarian file, Norway and Ireland. I want to welcome Assistant Secretary General Msuya, and thank you Joyce, for your very sobering briefing, which has once again underlined the sheer depth of ongoing humanitarian needs on the ground. You have also reminded us of the complex challenge of delivering the humanitarian response throughout Syria.
Since the start of 2022, Syria has seen increased insecurity and violence. Hostilities have resulted in the deaths of at least 92 civilians during the reporting period, including 19 children. Their deaths are deplorable, as is the systematic harming of civilians perpetrated by parties to the conflict. This flagrant disregard for the lives of Syrians is simply unacceptable, yet has tragically become the norm. We urge all parties to the conflict to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law, including by ensuring the protection of civilians, and civilian infrastructure in the conduct of military operations.
More than a decade of armed conflict on multiple fronts in Syria has left vast stretches of the country littered with mines and all kinds of explosive ordnance. Innocent civilians –seeking only to go about their daily lives - pay the terrible price through loss of life or limb. Explosive ordnance contamination is not only a major protection concern, but it also stands in the way of expanding humanitarian access, as well as efforts to build livelihoods and resilience in Syria.
Mine Action clearance capacity has long been a missing link in the broader chain of humanitarian interventions in Syria. We welcome the commencement of UNMAS-supported clearance operations in Western Ghouta. The arrival of capable Mine Action organizations in Syria offers donors and other humanitarian stakeholders an opportunity to begin filling the gap as a matter of urgency, in line with humanitarian principles.
We are deeply concerned by the continuously deteriorating security situation at Al Hol camp, with four murders reported in January alone. We urge that the review of security protocols be concluded swiftly. It is crucial that security provided at the camp protects civilians and humanitarian workers, without constraining humanitarian access.
Syrians continue to struggle through a harsh and cruel winter, to devastating effect. Camps have been flooded, destroying tents, affecting the lives of tens of thousands of civilians, and resulting in the deaths of men, women, and children. The economic crisis has deepened, driving food prices ever higher and contributing to food insecurity. Water access has been further affected by hostilities, low rainfall, and disruptions to the water systems. We commend the continued efforts of the United Nations and other humanitarian organisations in delivering early recovery activities, and we welcome progress made in this regard during the reporting period.
Through this bleak season, the humanitarian cross border operation continues to provide critical humanitarian support for millions of people in desperate need in North West Syria. As stated once again by the Secretary General, there is currently no alternative that can match the scale and scope of the cross-border operation.
As co-penholders, Ireland and Norway continue to emphasise our support for all modalities to meet the humanitarian needs of all the people of Syria. The humanitarian access landscape in Syria remains complex. The delivery and distribution of the second cross line delivery to North West Syria is welcome, but the lack of a cross line delivery to date in 2022 is a disappointment. It is vital that the necessary approvals and security guarantees are provided. We encourage continued efforts, and call on all parties to commit to ensuring that humanitarian deliveries can reach all people in need. It is the people of Syria, already in dire need, who continue to suffer when humanitarian access is not possible.
In closing, I would like to reiterate that our guiding principle on this file is, and will remain, addressing the significant humanitarian needs of all the Syrian people. This Council must continue to work as one to ensure that those needs are met.
Let me turn now to the political situation and make some additional remarks in my national capacity.
Thank you Geir, for your briefing.
Ireland commends your continued efforts to reconvene the drafting body of the Constitutional Committee, with the planned seventh meeting from 21 to 25 March. The Committee must achieve substantive progress, but cannot do so without meaningful engagement on texts, especially by the Syrian authorities.
Geir, we welcome your ongoing consultation with the Women’s Advisory Board. It is essential that the Committee has a clear understanding of the gendered impacts of the current situation. Gender equality and respect for international human rights law must be priorities, underpinned by a gender-responsive constitution. Women’s full, equal and meaningful participation and leadership should be a norm at every stage and for every party.
Ireland calls on all parties to the conflict to comply with their obligations under international law. We reiterate our calls for those responsible for violations of international law to be held to account. Ireland will continue to support the work of the Commission of Inquiry on Syria and the International, Impartial, Independent Mechanism. Both have vital roles in ensuring accountability and justice, which is essential if the Syrian people are to have lasting peace and stability.
Ireland remains gravely concerned about the tens of thousands of people in Syria who have been unlawfully detained and forcibly disappeared. We look forward to the forthcoming Secretary-General’s study on how to bolster efforts to clarify the fate and whereabouts of missing people in Syria, as requested in GA Resolution 76/228. This will be a valuable addition to existing work, including by the Office of the Special Envoy.
This Council was reminded last month of the severe threat remaining from Da’esh in Syria. The international community must remain committed to ensuring Da’esh’s lasting defeat.
To help overcome these and other challenges, Ireland will continue to support Special Envoy Pedersen in all of his efforts to facilitate a political resolution that delivers for all Syrian people. We look forward to further engagement on his “steps for steps” initiative. We call on all parties to the conflict, as well as other international and Syrian stakeholders, to do likewise.
In conclusion, Mr. President, Resolution 2254 adopted by this Council must remain our lodestar. We all know that the only sustainable solution to the crisis in Syria is through an inclusive and Syrian-led political process that meets the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people. Only then can the Syrian people be assured that an end to their suffering is in sight. This is the only way forward.