This statement is on behalf of Norway and Ireland, the penholders for the Syria humanitarian file.
We thank the briefers: Special Envoy Pedersen, ASG Msuya, and Assistant Secretary-General Zaki for your sobering accounts of the humanitarian situation in Syria.
Marking 11 years of conflict, death, and despair in Syria is a tragic milestone. One which sees the humanitarian situation continue to deteriorate. COVID-19, economic crises, and drought are fuelling the misery. And on top of that, increasing food prices.
12 million people in Syria are food insecure. Families face an unthinkable choice between buying food, or buying fuel for heating in the cold winter. The number of refugees, internally displaced people, and those in need of lifesaving aid, remains shockingly high. Those behind the figures include: fathers, mothers, and millions of innocent children who have never experienced anything other than conflict.
Negative coping mechanisms, such as child, early and forced marriage, are increasing. And instead of going to school, many children are forced to work. A staggering 3 million children were out of school this month. Children are paying the highest price for this conflict.
While millions of Syrians have found refuge in neighbouring countries – and we thank those countries for their generous hospitality over all these years – over 14.6 million of those who remain in Syria, need humanitarian assistance and protection. They need food, water, health services, electricity, shelter, education, and jobs.
We must use all modalities to ensure that we reach out to everyone with humanitarian needs across Syria.
For millions in the North-West the humanitarian cross-border mechanism remains the critical lifeline for the provision of food, medical assistance, and shelter. The humanitarian cross-border mechanism is an irreplaceable tool for the reliable delivery of large-scale humanitarian aid month after month. It is also the modality which best ensures monitoring, and transparency.
The needs are massive, and the humanitarian imperative must be at the core of the response. This is why we have been supportive of the UN’s six-month plan to deliver humanitarian aid across the conflict-line to the North-West. We urge all parties to facilitate access, and contribute to progress in these cross-line deliveries.
We also want to use this occasion to commend the humanitarian organisations – international and local – which are staying and delivering across Syria, despite the extremely difficult circumstances. We call on all parties to allow and facilitate safe, rapid, and unhindered humanitarian access to those in need.
Violence continues: including airstrikes, shelling, and the killing and maiming of civilians. Civilians, and civilian infrastructure, must be protected in accordance with international humanitarian law. And yet, since the start of the conflict there have reportedly been 751 attacks on educational facilities and personnel. These attacks are clearly contrary to resolution 2601 on the protection of education in armed conflict, which this Council unanimously adopted.
11 years on, we must continue to stand together with the Syrian people in overcoming this desperate situation. Our key objective must be protecting and assisting the Syrian people. We welcome and support the increased focus on early recovery in humanitarian programming. And while continuing to address immediate humanitarian needs, we reiterate that only a credible political process can give the Syrian people back their future. We call on all Council members to do their part to this end.
The Syrian people have suffered enough.
I thank you.