I deliver this statement on behalf of the co-penholders for the Syria humanitarian file, Ireland and Norway.
Let me first thank the briefers for their presentations.
As we have heard so many times, the humanitarian situation in Syria remains alarming.
Conflict, food insecurity, drought, COVID, and a collapsing economy all contribute to a heavy toll on the Syrian people. One that they have been carrying for too long.
Ninety per cent of people in Syria live in poverty.
We are concerned particularly about the gendered impact of the conflict; including an increased risk of early marriage for girls, and for boys, the risk of recruitment to armed groups.
This underlines the need for a holistic and broader humanitarian response.
One which is sufficiently funded to deliver lifesaving aid, and protects against violence and abuse- such as sexual and gender-based violence.
It also underlines the need for early recovery including electricity to support access to essential services.
With the school year now starting, it is particularly worrying that across Syria, some 2.4 million children are out of school.
As UNICEF have reported, one in three schools in Syria are no longer used for educational purposes. Some have been destroyed and damaged.
Some function as shelters for displaced families.
And others are being used for military purposes.
We reiterate this Council’s expression of deep concern about attacks, and threats of attacks, against schools. We urge all parties to refrain from actions that impede safe access to education.
This includes refraining from the military use of schools and other educational institutions.
The right to education, and the continuation of education- including for displaced children- must be safeguarded.
In June this year, OHCHR released a report estimating that over 306 000 civilians have been killed since the conflict erupted in 2010.
We deplore the recent escalation of hostilities. Civilians must be protected.
Equally concerning are the estimated high numbers of those who have disappeared over the years of conflict, including humanitarian workers.
Progress in identifying and recovering missing persons is important. And appropriate humanitarian actors must be given unhindered access to all places of detention.
The recent outbreak of cholera in Syria is also of serious concern. And further underlines the importance of ensuring safe, rapid, and unhindered access for delivery of medical items and other lifesaving aid to the people in humanitarian need all over Syria.
As penholders we have consistently been supportive of all modalities for the delivery of humanitarian aid, both cross-border and cross-line.
This is not a question of either or.
The UN and its humanitarian partners must be allowed to use both modalities to deliver protection and assistance in accordance with the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality, and independence.
We want to see further progress on cross-line humanitarian deliveries, and we encourage all involved actors to facilitate this.
But it is also crystal clear that the humanitarian cross-border mechanism is the essential lifeline to the many millions in need in the North-West.
With the winter coming, we as a Council must take the responsibility to ensure that this lifeline continues.