Thank you, Mr President. I make this statement today on behalf of Norway and Ireland, as co-penholders of the Syria Humanitarian file.
Many thanks to Secretary General Guterres, USG Griffiths, and particular thanks to Mr Agha for your presence here today, and for your efforts in your capacity as the NGO Forum Coordinator. Your briefings have again made plain the desperate need of so many people in Syria.
Last week our Foreign Ministers undertook a visit to Bab al-Hawa, and learned more about the deep need, along with the extraordinary work of the UN and NGOs in delivering cross border aid to the North West of Syria.
The severity of the situation could not be clearer. Syrians are experiencing a twelfth year of war, and humanitarian needs have never been higher. In April and May, at least 72 more civilians, including 12 children, lost their lives due to hostilities and explosive remnants of war.
14.6 million people across the country are in need of humanitarian assistance, including over 4 million in need in North West Syria alone. 12 million are food insecure, with almost 2 million more at risk of food insecurity. Food prices continue to rise, and rates of malnutrition soar. Every day, millions of people go hungry in Syria.
Negative coping mechanisms are on the rise. The futures of children are mortgaged away so that families can eat. Withdrawn from school to work, forced into early marriages, these children who have known little but war are also losing hope for a better future.
Across Syria, only one third of schools are fully functional, and more than 1.5 million children currently in education are at risk of dropping out. Children with disabilities are particularly likely to be out of school, and many of the children in most desperate need are dependent on cross border interventions. We owe it to them to find a way forward.
Last July, this Council came together to support the humanitarian needs of the people of Syria. Since this Council unanimously adopted resolution 2585, we have seen significant progress in its implementation.
We welcome the substantial results from a broad range of early recovery and resilience activities. The Secretary General has reported that since January, early recovery and livelihood partners have supported almost 320,000 individuals directly, with 2.9 million indirect beneficiaries across the country.
That is nearly 3 million people who have benefitted from training and work opportunities, health care facilities, education, water, and sanitation infrastructure, mine clearance, agricultural and cash interventions – to name but a few of the activities undertaken. Nearly 3 million people whose lives have been improved by early recovery mandated under resolution 2585.
As we know, some 570 projects - a full 26% of the funding request for the Humanitarian Response Plan - contribute to early recovery and resilience. Major donors have also greatly increased their investment in early recovery over the past year. As of late May, $195 million had been contributed to early recovery and resilience objectives. Further progress will be enabled with a renewal of the resolution.
We must ensure that aid reaches all people in need. As co-penholders, Ireland and Norway continue to strongly support the use of all modalities to reach Syrians in need with lifesaving humanitarian assistance.
We welcome the fifth cross line delivery, which took place last week. We encourage further progress on cross line deliveries, and take this opportunity to commend OCHA and other UN agencies for the work in this regard. We once again call on all parties to support cross line deliveries.
Despite notable progress on cross line deliveries, our Ministers saw very clearly that the cross border operation at Bab al-Hawa remains indispensable. There is no alternative for the millions of civilians who rely on aid provided through this UN operation for their survival.
As the Secretary General has underlined, this operation is one of the most heavily monitored in the world, ensuring the humanitarian nature of these shipments in the North West. Our Ministers saw themselves the rigorous procedures for control and monitoring of the aid.
We commend UN agencies and humanitarian partners for continuing to address the logistical and operational challenges resulting from the reduction to one authorised border crossing. Failure to extend the mandate would lead to further humanitarian suffering on an enormous scale.
For Ireland and Norway, our approach as penholders on this resolution is guided exclusively by the humanitarian needs. We have all heard the figures; 12 years into the conflict, needs are at their highest levels and continue to grow.
A failure to renew this resolution would mean the loss of the transparency and accountability provided by the UN monitoring mechanism. Most importantly, it would end the delivery of life-saving aid to millions of vulnerable people in severe need of food, shelter, medical assistance, education material, livelihoods and WASH assistance.
There has been significant progress on implementing Resolution 2585, and there is much more we can do – including on cross line and early recovery – by renewing this vital resolution.
We must not abandon the people of Syria now. We call on the Members of this Council to work constructively to ensure that aid can continue to reach the millions of Syrians in need. To echo the Secretary General, it is a moral and humanitarian imperative to do so.