SC: Syria - Humanitarian

Statement by co-penholders Norway and Ireland on the humanitarian situation in Syria, 20 December 2021. Delivered by Permanent Representative of Ireland, Geraldine Byrne Nason.

I make this statement today on behalf of the co-penholders of the Syrian humanitarian file, Norway and Ireland. 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. Thank you to Dr Ballour for you remark. Your message was 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 significant 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 United Nations 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 women, men 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.

Mr President,

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.