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GA: UNSG briefing on Syria

Statement by Deputy Permanent Representative Trine Heimerback at the UN Secretary-General briefing to the General Assembly on Syria, 30 March 2021.

Secretary-General, Excellencies,

This month marks ten years since the start of the Syrian conflict. That a decade has passed is a sad reflection of the world failing the Syrian people.

We, the international community, need to take a step back and ask ourselves how we can unlock what has become a stalled peace process. And move into a phase of progress, and difficult compromises.

Progress on the political track is the key to: stability, development, and return of refugees to Syria. Norway gives its full support to the Special Envoy in his efforts to engage with the parties, and relevant actors, in the political process.

We continue to support the implementation of all aspects of resolution 2254. This resolution was agreed by consensus in the Security Council, and there is still broad agreement that this is the framework we have for a political settlement.

Today, the constitutional track is the most active, but we need progress also on other issues. I would especially highlight the importance of releasing those arbitrarily imprisoned and detained. This is a key issue for the Syrian people, and for building confidence between the parties.

Secretary-General,

There is no doubt, a nationwide and permanent ceasefire is urgently needed to prevent further suffering in Syria. It is appalling to witness that violations and abuses of human rights in Syria continue with little end in sight.

Human rights, gender equality, and rule of law is a prerequisite for sustainable peace. The lack of accountability for those responsible for violations against civilians exacerbates the conflict. Accountability remains central to achieving durable peace and reconciliation. The rights and needs of the victims must be ensured.

In this respect, we reaffirm our strong support for the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism (or the IIIM) created by this Assembly- as well as the Commission of Inquiry.

Secretary-General, Excellencies,

During the course of the war in Syria, we have witnessed one of the largest humanitarian responses the world has ever seen. Today, the UN and the EU have hosted the fifth Brussels conference on the future of Syria. The conference has once again reaffirmed the international community’s extraordinary support and solidarity with the people of Syria.

Norway pledged a further NOK 1,6 bn. / USD 190 million in support to Syria and the region this year, reierating our position as one of the largest donors to the international response.

Still, the reality remains that despite all efforts, overall humanitarian needs continue to increase, and are now greater than at any previous point of the conflict. Right now, over 13 million Syrians are in need of humanitarian assistance. That includes 5 million children, who have never known anything but conflict.

Violence continues to claim civilian lives in Syria. Last week an attack on a hospital in Atareb, in Aleppo, killed at least 7 people including two cousins, two boys 10 and 12 years old. Direct attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure- including medical units such as hospitals- are strictly prohibited under international humanitarian law and must stop.

As long as the situation on the ground remains as it is, intensified cross-line and cross-border deliveries are essential to reach everyone in need. Meeting the humanitarian needs of the 4 million civilians in North West Syria requires the continued provision of UN support through the border crossing at Bab al Hawa. Without this lifesaving humanitarian assistance, lives will continue to be lost. We must use all modalities for humanitarian assistance to reach those in need. Security Council resolution 2533 must be renewed.

Monitoring aid delivery is also a critical component of UN cross-border operations. The data underpinning our assessment of needs, and the mechanisms to monitor humanitarian activities, must be robust and continually strengthened.

Secretary-General,

For a decade the Syrian children, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, have borne the brunt of the failure to end the conflict.

We all must intensify our efforts to seek an end to the Syrian conflict. We owe this not only to all who have perished in Syria over the past decade. Not only to those who bear the physical and mental scars of the conflict. But to the new generations of Syrians, so they are able to grow up in peace.