Urging Extension of Resolution on Cross-Border Humanitarian Assistance into Syria, Secretary-General Tells Security Council ‘Our Aid is Reaching People in Need’ – Syrian Arab Republic – ReliefWeb
June 21, 2022
9068TH MEETING (PM)
Syrian Representative Claims Turkish Regime Benefits from Cross-Border Mechanism, But Türkiye’s Delegate Insists ‘No Hidden Agenda’ Except to Save Lives
The Secretary-General of the United Nations today urged the Security Council to extend the resolution that allows cross-border deliveries of lifesaving aid into north-west Syria for another 12 months, as speakers diverged over what form future assistance should take amidst unprecedented humanitarian need throughout the country.
António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, highlighting his report on the matter (document S/2022/492), underscored that humanitarian needs in Syria are at their highest since the start of the war over 11 years ago. “People are living on the brink, no longer able to cope,” he stressed, and the current United Nations humanitarian appeal requires $4.4 billion to assist people inside Syria and another $5.6 billion to support refugees in the region. The generous pledges made at the sixth Brussels Conference must be paid, and he appealed to donors to follow through and increase their support.
Turning to the situation in north-west Syria, where 2.8 million people are displaced and more than 90 per cent of the population requires aid, he stressed that all channels to deliver life-saving aid should be made and kept available. “The United Nations cross-border operation in Syria is one of the most heavily scrutinized and monitored aid operations in the world,” he said, underscoring that “there is no doubt that our aid is reaching people in need”. Because crossline assistance is not presently at the scale needed to replace the cross-border response, he urged the Council to maintain consensus on allowing cross-border operations for an additional 12 months.
Martin Griffiths, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, also underlined the imperative of retaining the ability to deliver assistance from across the Turkish border for an additional 12 months. There are 4.4 million people living in north-west Syria, and 20 per cent more people require aid than did in 2021. Without United Nations cross-border access, hunger will increase, medical cases will go untreated, millions will be at risk of losing shelter assistance and access to water will decrease. “We need to face reality,” he stressed: “There has been progress and there will be more,” but needs are rising and the resolution must be renewed.
Echoing those remarks was Iyad Agha, Non-Governmental Organization Forum Coordinator for NGO Forum Northwest Syria, who underscored that the cross-border operation cannot be replaced by a non-governmental-organization-led response or by crossline operations without resulting in a massive humanitarian impact. Pointing out that the circumstances in north-west Syria that led to the authorization of cross-border support “are still the same if not worse”, he called on the Council to reauthorize the provisions of the cross-border resolution for at least 12 months. “There are more than 4 million reasons to renew the authorization,” he added, as that is the number of people whose lives depend on this humanitarian operation.
In the ensuing discussion, many Council members supported the renewal of the cross-border resolution for an additional 12 months, underscoring that crossline operations cannot currently replace the cross-border mechanism for the delivery of aid. Others stressed that resolution 2585 (2021) has not been fully implemented, pointing out that only five crossline convoys have occurred in the past year and emphasizing that humanitarian relief must respect Syria’s sovereignty and not be politicized.
The representative of Ireland, also speaking for Norway, noting that the futures of Syrian children are being mortgaged away so that families can eat, recalled progress since the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2585 (2021), with almost 320,000 individuals directly supported and 2.9 million indirect beneficiaries across the country since January. While calling on all parties to support crossline deliveries, she said that the cross-border operation at Bab al-Hawa remains indispensable.
Brazil’s representative, however, pointed out that the costs of humanitarian operations are rising due to global increases in the prices of food and fuel. Sustainable solutions to ongoing conflicts are needed. He urged a thorough assessment of the potential consequences of unilateral sanctions on the civilian population during this acute economic crisis and escalating hunger.
The representative of the United Arab Emirates similarly emphasized that the cross-border aid delivery mechanism should not be considered a long-term solution, underlining the need for an increase in the number of crossline convoys in conjunction with additional support for early recovery projects. Noting the ongoing escalation on the Turkish-Syrian border, he stressed that the cross-border mechanism should not be used to justify political interests or interfere in Syria’s affairs.
On that point, Syria’s representative said that the Turkish regime’s threat to establish a so-called safe zone in northern Syria demonstrates its subversive policies to destabilize Syria by supporting terrorism, displacing people and effecting demographic change. Spotlighting Western countries’ refusal to enhance the delivery of humanitarian aid from within Syria, he stressed that the Turkish regime and its terrorist agents are the only beneficiaries of the cross-border mechanism.
The representative of Iran, noting that unilateral sanctions have stymied the implementation of resolution 2585 (2021), said that the Syrian Government’s ability to achieve economic and social stability was undermined by these illegal measures. The provision of humanitarian aid is essential because of the dire situation in Syria, and he stressed that political circumstances should not prevent assistance from reaching people.
However, Türkiye’s representative underscored the moral imperative to extend the cross-border mandate, stressing that such extension should not be politicized. United Nations cross-border operations are among the most sophisticated, scrutinized and transparent humanitarian assistance systems ever established. “There is no hidden agenda at issue here — the aim is nothing but to save lives,” he stressed.
Also speaking were representatives of Ghana (also speaking for Gabon and Kenya), United States, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, Mexico, China, France, India and Albania.
The meeting began at 3:04 p.m. and ended at 5:08 p.m.
ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary-General of the United Nations, calling attention to his report on the humanitarian situation in Syria (see document S/2022/492), underscored that humanitarian needs in Syria are at their highest since the start of the war over 11 years ago, as the world’s largest refugee crisis continues to impact the region and the world. “The figures are stark,” he said, noting that 14.6 million people need humanitarian assistance; 12 million people are food insecure; 90 per cent of the population live below the poverty line; infrastructure is crumbling; and economic activity halved during a decade of conflict, regional financial crises, sanctions and the COVID-19 pandemic. “People are living on the brink, no longer able to cope,” he stressed. The United Nations current humanitarian appeal requires $4.4 billion to assist people inside Syria and another $5.6 billion to support refugees in the region. The generous pledges made at the sixth Brussels Conference must be paid, and he appealed to donors to follow through and increase their support.
The needs in Syria are too great to address through immediate life-saving efforts alone, he continued, pointing out that more than one quarter of the appeal is intended to support early recovery and resilience. Through projects already under way, millions will benefit from the rehabilitation of damaged hospitals, schools, water systems and other basic infrastructure. These programmes also help communities by providing opportunities for work and generating income. Turning to the situation in north-west Syria, he underlined that the needs there continue to increase, as 2.8 million people are displaced and more than 90 per cent of the population requires aid. Recalling his consistent position regarding the importance of maintaining and expanding access — including through crossline and cross-border operations — he stressed that all channels to deliver life-saving aid to people in need across Syria should be made, and kept, available.
“The United Nations cross-border operation into Syria is one of the most heavily scrutinized and monitored aid operations in the world,” he said, underscoring that “there is no doubt that our aid is reaching people in need”. While increasing crossline assistance was an important achievement, it is not presently at the scale needed to replace the massive cross-border response. To that end, he urged the Council to maintain consensus on allowing cross-border operations by renewing resolution 2585 (2021) for an additional 12 months. He stressed that it is a “moral imperative” to address the suffering of the 4.1 million people in the area who need aid and protection, noting that 80 per cent of those in need in north-west Syria are women and children. He also added a call to all Council members to encourage the parties to engage in meaningful negotiations for peace, stating that “we cannot give up on the people of Syria”.
MARTIN GRIFFITHS, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, confirmed the Secretary-General’s remarks, which paint a grim picture. Hostilities were continuing at the frontlines and in pockets across the country, killing more civilians, including murders in Al Hol camp and a car bomb killing the Head of Office of a humanitarian partner organization in Al Bab city on 15 June. On 10 June, the Damascus airport, damaged by an airstrike, was shut down and remains closed as of today, leading the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service to suspend its operations. Meanwhile, landmines continue to threaten communities. Reminding all parties that international humanitarian law requires them to respect civilians and civilian objects, he stressed that the number of people in need is the highest it has ever been during more than 11 years of war; this was a crisis of hunger, water and economy.
Against that dismal backdrop, he noted that the Council will soon discuss the renewal of resolution 2585 (2021), adding that so far this year 2.9 million people have benefited from humanitarian aid efforts. From January to April, health sector partners trained close to 15,000 health-care workers and rehabilitated 106 health care facilities that service up to 400,000 people; education partners have restored over 1,500 classrooms. Since the adoption of resolution 2585 (2021), five crossline convoys have been deployed, opening access to north-west Syria for the first time since 2017 and providing food for over 43,000 people each time.
Stressing the need for timely approvals and security guarantees, especially for safe passage, as well as funding, he underlined the imperative of retaining the ability to deliver assistance across the border from Türkiye for an additional 12 months. There are 4.4 million people living in north-west Syria, over 90 per cent of whom need humanitarian assistance. That was 20 per cent more than last year, when the United Nations sent some 800 trucks of cross-border aid there, reaching 2.4 million people each month. Last year, the United Nations spent over $420 million inside north-west Syria, including $151 million allocated through the Syria Cross Border Humanitarian Fund. Without United Nations cross-border access, hunger will increase, medical cases will go untreated, millions will be at risk of losing shelter assistance and access to water will decrease. The United Nations monitoring mechanism will also stop, decreasing transparency and accountability. “We need to face reality,” he said: “There has been progress and there will be more,” but needs are rising and the resolution must be renewed.
IYAD AGHA, Non-Governmental Organization Forum Coordinator, NGO Forum Northwest Syria, stressed that, as the number of people in need are rising, the capacity to respond is decreasing due to reduced funding and other competing humanitarian crises around the world. Generations of Syrian children have been born and raised in camps. Access to clean water, food on a regular basis and four walls to call home “are luxuries they are not willing to dare to dream about”, he said. However, millions living in north-west Syria have benefited from United Nations-led cross-border assistance. This operation cannot be replaced by a non-governmental-organization-led response or by crossline operations without resulting in a massive humanitarian impact. Were this to occur, the north-west would experience a quick and catastrophic deterioration in the humanitarian situation due to the high levels of aid dependency there. The current cross-border operation reaches almost 60 per cent of the 4.1 million people in need of assistance each month and, in sectors like food security, the United Nations supports up to 80 per cent of all food assistance through the cross-border mechanism.
The United Nations plays a vital role in procurement, providing stability and reliability in the humanitarian supply chain, he continued, adding that non-governmental organizations rely heavily on the United Nations unique ability to obtain pharmaceuticals, vaccines and key medicines. Pointing out that the circumstances in north-west Syria that led to the authorization of cross-border support “are still the same if not worse”, he underscored the need to maintain this modality. “There is currently no viable alternative to replace the response being delivered through the cross-border modality,” he stressed, and he called on the Council to reauthorize the provisions of the cross-border resolution for at least 12 months to ensure that the United Nations cross-border response into north-west Syria remains in place. “There are more than 4 million reasons to renew the authorization,” he added, as that is the number of people whose lives depend on this humanitarian operation.
GERALDINE BYRNE NASON (Ireland), also speaking for Norway, reported that their countries’ foreign ministers undertook a visit to Bab al-Hawa and learned more about the situation there, along with the extraordinary work of the United Nations and non-governmental organizations in delivering cross-border aid to the north-west of Syria. She pointed out that 14.6 million people across Syria are in need of humanitarian assistance, including over 4 million in need in north-west Syria alone. Twelve million people are food insecure, with almost 2 million more at risk of food insecurity. Food prices continue to rise and rates of malnutrition soar. The futures of children are mortgaged away so that families can eat, she said, pointing to children withdrawn from school to work or forced into early marriages. 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, particularly those with disabilities.
She went on to recall progress since the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2585 (2021), with almost 320,000 individuals directly supported, and 2.9 million indirect beneficiaries across the country since January. As of late May, $195 million had been contributed to early recovery and resilience objectives, she noted, stressing that further progress will be enabled with a renewal of the resolution. Calling on all parties to support crossline deliveries, she said that cross-border operation at Bab al-Hawa remains indispensable, which is one of the most heavily monitored in the world. Reiterating the call for renewal of resolution 2585 (2021), she underscored that a failure to do so would end the delivery of life-saving aid to millions of vulnerable people in Syria.
HAROLD ADLAI AGYEMAN (Ghana), also speaking for Gabon and Kenya, expressed deep concern about the persistent challenges facing people in Syria, including civilian casualties resulting from mine explosions, sporadic air strikes and shelling and food insecurity that caused a precedented number of women and children suffering from malnutrition. In addition, the reduced water levels of the Euphrates River and the Alouk water station have given rise to acute water shortages. Denouncing the continued atrocities committed by terrorist groups such as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as Da’esh, and the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, he expressed equal concern about the increasing number of deaths of humanitarian aid workers in the country.
Noting that the United Nations cross-border operations benefits almost 60 per cent of the 4.1 million Syrians in need of humanitarian assistance each month, he commended the scale-up in the crossline aid delivery of essential humanitarian supplies to about 43,000 people in the north-west. Aid delivery across the front lines is equally essential, he said, calling for the continuation of the crossline aid delivery mechanism. Urging the Security Council to unanimously support the renewal of resolution 2585 (2021), he called for the removal of all physical and administrative obstructions impeding the delivery of life-saving aid to the people in Syria.
LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD (United States) said that upon last year’s renewal of the cross-border humanitarian mechanism, millions of Syrians could breathe a sigh of relief as the Council had put politics aside. Aid workers reach 2.4 million people and feed 1.8 million in Syria’s north-west every month, pulling families back from the brink of famine. In a recent visit to Syria, she verified that the Bab al-Hawa border crossing is one of the most closely monitored and inspected in the world, as the work there “sets a gold standard”. Progress has been made on everything promised in resolution 2585 (2021). However, as every worker told her, crossline aid alone can reach thousands but not millions, and the situation is worse than ever, with the price of a food basket at record levels for the eighth consecutive month. Without cross-border aid, millions will die. Witnessing desperation in the eyes of aid workers, she condemned attacks on them and called for renewal and expansion of the cross-border mechanism, as the current operation is not reaching the bare minimum of those in need. “We can get this done, because it is not about politics,” she stressed. The vote could not be more straightforward.
DMITRY POLYANSKIY (Russian Federation), noting reports of food and fuel crises, expressed regret that the Secretary-General’s report does not pin responsibility on the United States because of its unilateral sanctions and ongoing occupation of north-east Syria. The fuel shortage is affecting the operation of water-supply plants and power stations, and farmers are being impacted. Pointing out that humanitarian workers decry Western sanctions — which present obstacles to financial and logistical operations — he said statements by Washington, D.C., and other capitals that unilateral sanctions are targeted and balanced “ring hollow”. He went on to stress that the humanitarian situation continues to worsen “through tragic events that undermine security”, spotlighting the series of Israeli air strikes on an airport near Damascus on 10 June that forced a humanitarian route — on which the lives of more than 2 million people depend — to close. On that, he said the lack of reaction by “those parties who are so thrilled about humanitarian deliveries to Syria” is astonishing. Recalling that only five cross-line convoys have occurred in the past year, he asked whether this was the Council’s intention when it adopted resolution 2585 (2021) and underscored that organizing humanitarian deliveries in coordination with Damascus is possible to all parts of the country.
BARBARA WOODWARD (United Kingdom), emphasizing that the Council should take decisions that alleviate suffering and contribute to peace and security in Syria, pointed to the need to heed the advice of humanitarian actors on the ground. Recalling her country’s ministerial delegation’s visit to the Turkish-Syrian border, she highlighted the enormous effort that goes into ensuring regular and transparent cross-border operations. An end to that mandate would be catastrophic, she stressed, adding that the closure of previous crossings should serve as a clear warning: needs in the north-east have escalated since the closure of Yaroubiyah. Her country has pledged nearly $200 million in humanitarian support in 2022 to bolster ongoing early recovery across all areas of Syria, including urban and rural livelihoods, rehabilitation of water networks and quality education for children. Urging delegates to review the evidence and listen to the experts, she stressed that Council resolution 2585 (2021) should be renewed and expanded.
RONALDO COSTA FILHO (Brazil) said his country’s position has remained unchanged since the start of this conflict in 2011: only a Syrian-owned and Syrian-led, United Nations-facilitated political process, with due regard for the preservation of Syria`s territorial integrity and sovereignty, will alleviate the immeasurable suffering that this conflict has inflicted. The Council must recognize, once and for all, that it faces a very serious problem. Despite the best efforts of the World Food Programme (WFP) and all United Nations agencies, as well as other humanitarian organizations, resources are not unlimited. As food and fuel prices soar worldwide, so do the costs of humanitarian operations. Sustainable solutions to ongoing conflicts are needed. During this acute economic crisis and escalating hunger, a thorough assessment of the potential deleterious consequences of unilateral sanctions on the civilian population is also essential. A ceasefire is urgently needed in Syria. He once again called on all parties to refrain from harming civilians and to comply with international humanitarian law.
ALICIA GUADALUPE BUENROSTRO MASSIEU (Mexico) said the guidelines for this discussion must be the humanitarian needs of the Syrian population without any politicization. This briefing shows the difficult context in which Syrians find themselves. The scope provided by the Bab al-Hawa border crossing cannot be replaced. About 800 trucks carrying humanitarian aid have entered this crossing per month and have reached 2.4 million people. This crossing is crucial as people receive food and nutritional assistance through it. It is essential to maintain humanitarian access. Therefore, it is essential to renew this crossing for 12 more months. She appealed to all Council members to be guided by the humanitarian needs of the people who have endured this conflict for 11 years.
MOHAMED ABUSHAHAB (United Arab Emirates) noted that the cross-border aid delivery mechanism adopted by the Security Council eight years ago is an exceptional and temporary measure. It should not be considered as a long-term solution. There is a need for commensurate humanitarian plans, namely an increase in the number of crossline convoys in conjunction with additional support for early recovery projects. On the matter of northern Syria and the ongoing escalation on the Turkish-Syrian border, he stressed that the cross-border aid delivery mechanism should not be used to justify political interests, nor should it be used as a tool to interfere in Syria’s affairs, as misuse will undermine its credibility as a purely humanitarian mechanism. In this regard, he stressed the importance of the delivery of humanitarian aid through the Bab al-Hawa crossing via United Nations humanitarian agencies and their partners on the ground. Highlighting the urgency of providing protection for humanitarian workers, he called on all parties to allow crossline convoys to pass through smoothly and without hindrance. Recalling resolution 2585 (2021), he urged States to consider how to intensify early recovery efforts by rehabilitating and rebuilding the infrastructure that was destroyed. In addition, international programs in food security, water, electricity, and health should be strengthened as key parts of such efforts.
JUN ZHANG (China) said that although resolution 2585 (2021) has played a role in helping Syria, it has not been fully and effectively implemented. The Council must analyze obstacles to humanitarian relief, in full respect of the sovereignty of Syria and the Government’s ownership of crossline delivery, which should be the primary avenue of assistance. However, he noted there have only been five successful crossline deliveries, which face a litany of obstacles that should not doom further efforts. The Council must make explicit demands to ensure their effectiveness and safe passage. Stressing that key infrastructure must be fully protected, he cited a letter from the Syrian representative on 13 June, condemning the Israeli attack on Damascus International Airport. Humanitarian relief must not be politicized, with priority given to funding early recovery projects without preconditions. Member States must actively engage in dialogue towards cross-border aid delivery — which is solely an extraordinary arrangement that must comply with relevant Council resolutions, maintain transparency and impartiality, and face a clear timeline to being phased out. He called for the immediate lifting of unilateral sanctions on Syria, which have cost the country tens of billions of dollars.
NATHALIE BROADHURST ESTIVAL (France) joined other speakers in pointing out that in north-west Syria, 4.1 million people need assistance, while 70 per cent of the population is experiencing food insecurity; the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine has further aggravated the situation. She also observed that even if crossline convoys were deployed regularly, they could not replace cross-border operations, which bring aid to more than 2.4 million people each month. In comparison the five crossline convoys deployed since last August have provided aid to fewer than 50,000 people. Eighty per cent of food aid in the north-west is transported by cross-border convoys, she added, although they are subject to the discretion and whims of the Syrian regime. A renewal of the cross-border mechanism, for at least twelve months, is therefore essential. Calling on all Council members to show unity and make decisions on solely humanitarian considerations, she stressed that they have a moral duty to save lives. Reconstruction of the country, however, can only begin when a political process in line with resolution 2254 (2015) is firmly under way. She recalled that nearly 96 per cent of the humanitarian funding announced for the 2022 comes from the European Union and its member States, United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Norway and Japan.
RAVINDRA RAGUTTAHALLI (India), noting that the number of people needing humanitarian assistance in Syria has now crossed 14.5 million, stressed that decisive progress on the political track remains an imperative. Calling on all stakeholders, including external players, to commit to a Syrian-led and Syrian-owned United Nations-facilitated political process, he underscored that the launch of a military operation in north-eastern Syria could destabilize an already fragile situation. Also stressing the need to scale up humanitarian assistance, he pointed to falling production of food staples and issues related to water shortage, particularly in the Euphrates river basin. Voicing concern about the growing activities of terrorist groups such as ISIL/Da’esh, he drew attention to the situation of internally displaced persons and noted that India has extended development assistance and human resource development support to Syria.
FERIT HOXHA (Albania), Council President for June, speaking in his national capacity, said today, World Refugees Day, a record high number of 100 million people are currently displaced globally. This means that 1 in every 78 people on earth has been forcibly uprooted. Forty-two per cent of them are children. The Syrian crisis has entered its twelfth year and more than 14.6 million Syrians are dependent on humanitarian aid to survive. This includes 4.1 million people living in the north-west, where more than 70 per cent of the people are food insecure and are largely reliant on cross-border humanitarian assistance. In two weeks, on July 10, the Council will vote on cross-border authorization of the only remaining border crossing point for humanitarian aid into Syria, Bab al-Hawa, under resolution 2585 (2021). For millions of Syrians needing life-saving assistance, there is no other alternative. He called on the Council to reauthorize the provisions of the cross-border resolution to maintain the Bab al-Hawa border crossing in north-west Syria.
BASSAM SABBAGH (Syria) emphasized that the Government is enhancing its efforts to restore security and stability and overcome the repercussions of the crisis through reconciliation and work to repair infrastructure. However, terrorism against Syria persists, especially through the Turkish regime’s threatened aggression and Israel’s direct aggression. On that point, he said that Israel’s 10 June attack on the Damascus International Airport forced that facility to close, which has political, humanitarian, military and economic repercussions that will be suffered by all Syrians and countries in the region. All United Nations deliveries of humanitarian workers and life-saving supplies through that airport were forced to end following this attack, but certain Western delegations continue to obfuscate and prevent the Council from condemning this violation of international law.
He went on to say that the Turkish regime’s threat to establish a so-called safe zone in northern Syria demonstrates its subversive policies to destabilize Syria by supporting terrorism, displacing people and effecting demographic change. Further, Western countries have both directly and indirectly refused to implement resolution 2585 (2021), reneging on commitments to enhance the delivery of humanitarian aid from within Syria. They continue to focus on the cross-border mechanism — evident in the disparity between the number of cross-border and crossline convoys — and propagate misinformation, while fighting implementation of the resolution on the ground. Stressing that the Turkish regime and its terrorist agents are the only beneficiaries of the cross-border mechanism, he pointed out that the so-called donor community has unnecessarily linked early recovery and resilience to politicized conditions.
MAJID TAKHT RAVANCHI (Iran) said the 11-year conflict, as well as occupation and terrorism, has created enormous hardships for the Syrian people. The situation has been aggravated by the unilateral sanctions that have stymied the implementation of resolution 2585 (2021), which calls for the provision of basic services and early recovery and reconstruction projects. This has impeded Syria’s reconstruction efforts and hampered humanitarian aid delivery in many ways, including delaying the return of refugees and displaced persons. The Syrian Government’s ability to achieve economic and social stability and improve the living conditions of Syrians was undermined by these illegal measures. Because of the dire situation in Syria, the provision of humanitarian aid is essential and political circumstances should not prevent humanitarian aid from reaching people. Yet this must be done with full respect for Syria’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and national unity.
He went on to say that the Israeli regime continues to violate Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity while the Council remains mute in this regard. He strongly condemned Israel’s prolonged occupation of the Syrian Golan and its numerous breaches of Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. This includes the most recent attacks that targeted civilians and civilian infrastructure, particularly terrorist attacks against Damascus International Airport. These terrorist acts violate international law, international humanitarian law and Syria’s sovereignty and jeopardize regional stability and security. He called on the Council to abandon its double standard and condemn the repeated Israeli acts of aggression unequivocally, holding this lawless regime accountable for its aggressions and malicious activities.
FERIDUN HADI SINIRLIOĞLU (Türkiye) said the worst manmade humanitarian crisis since the Second World War is still unfolding in Syria, with 4.1 million of the 4.4 million living in north-west Syria requiring humanitarian aid, and 2.8 million people internally displaced. The Bab al-Hawa border crossing delivers aid to 2.4 million people, with 800 trucks every month, and has provided 2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines. “There is no hidden agenda at issue here — the aim is nothing but to save lives,” he stressed. The international community cannot turn a blind eye to millions of Syrians in desperate conditions, and the best way to help is through the United Nations cross-border operations, which is one of the most sophisticated, scrutinized and transparent humanitarian assistance systems ever established. Those operations are consistently inspected by the United Nations monitoring mechanism, and there have been no instances of non-humanitarian items found in the consignments.
Extension of the cross-border mandate is a moral imperative, must be guided by humanitarian considerations and should not be politicized, he continued. Without the monitoring mechanism, efforts will become less accountable and less transparent. The mechanism was a reflection of the international community’s commitment to the independence, unity and sovereignty integrity of Syria. Giving an overview of his country’s assistance, he noted that Türkiye provides temporary protection to almost 4 million Syrians, adding that, over the past 11 years, more than 750,000 Syrian babies have been born in his country. Syrians want to see a united Council, he said, urging the Council to preserve the indispensable cross-border mechanism. Responding to the statement made by the representative of Syria, he said: “I do not consider him as my legitimate counterpart. His presence here is an affront to the millions of Syrians who have suffered countless crimes at the hands of the regime.”