I deliver this statement on behalf of the co-penholders for the Syria humanitarian file, Ireland and Norway.
Let me first thank USG Geir O. Pedersen for his briefing to the Council. And I than USG Martin Griffiths for his candid briefing. The humanitarian situation in Syria is dire, and we appreciate your clear message to the Council regarding humanitarian access.
We are alarmed by continued escalation of hostilities in Syria. People are being killed and maimed. Families are again displaced and being separated. Many persons are still missing from previous fighting. And infrastructure is once again being destroyed. International humanitarian law must be respected, and civilians protected.
The cold winter will add a heavy burden on a people struggling to survive, already facing growing food insecurity, prevailing water shortages, a widespread cholera outbreak, and scarcity of fuel and energy.
We are particularly concerned by the danger and desperation children are experiencing in camps and detention facilities in Syria.
With the multitude of crises, lifesaving aid and protection must continue to be delivered. People need food, water, medicines, and warm, safe and dignified shelter.
It is also important to continue to build resilience through humanitarian early recovery projects, including electricity to restore access to basic services. We commend the UN and humanitarian organisations for their efforts in this regard. The vast humanitarian needs in Syria are a clear example of how destruction of civilian infrastructure affects civilians for years.
Syria has reportedly also recorded the highest number of landmine casualties anywhere in the world. The efficient clearance of mines, and other explosive remnants of war, is important to protect civilians from the protracted harm caused by over a decade of conflict. Mine clearance brings children back to schools, enables the scaling up of food production and livelihoods, and is critical for humanitarian access.
As penholders, Ireland and Norway have been vocal in our support for the use of all modalities for the delivery of humanitarian aid. Humanitarian access must not be denied. Humanitarian organizations must be able to use the most effective access modalities to reach the many who need humanitarian assistance and protection.
We commend the progress made with cross-line deliveries to all parts of Syria, including to the North-West, the North-East and recently to Ras al-Ayn. This must continue.
The humanitarian cross-border mechanism remains the critical lifeline for the delivery of the humanitarian response to the North-West. There is currently no substitute that could replace the scale and volume of the transparent and well-monitored humanitarian cross-border mechanism.
With the onset of a cold and harsh winter, humanitarian needs will again rise. It is therefore imperative that the Council remain committed to follow-up resolution 2642 in good faith by confirming the extension of the humanitarian cross-border mechanism.
This is a matter of life or death for millions of people. This Council must not fail them. We must give them hope for a better future.