Source: France-Diplomatie – Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development
Published on April 30, 2020
1. United Nations – Syria (humanitarian situation) – Statement by the Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations – Security Council (New York – April 29, 2020)
Many thanks to Mark Lowcock for his presentation.
The risk of the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in Syria is extremely worrying, notably in the North West and in the North East.
An immediate and sustainable nationwide ceasefire is the only way to facilitate the response to the COVID-19.
Let me express France’s strong condemnation of the horrific terrorist bombing that struck a market in Afrin yesterday. Many victims were civilians, including children. It is heartbreaking. I would like to express our saddened condolences to the families and all those affected by this attack.
I want also to reiterate France’s full support to the call of the Secretary-General and of his Special Envoy in this regard. It is urgent that it be implemented. We call on all parties – and especially the regime that did not respond to the UN Secretary-General appeal – to work actively in this direction. As Ambassador de Rivière said this morning, the United Nations have to remain at the forefront of these efforts, in accordance with resolution 2254.
A nationwide ceasefire is all the more necessary as the implementation of the Russian-Turkish agreement on Idlib remains fragile and uncertain.
All parties, in particular the Syrian regime, must ensure a safe and unhindered humanitarian access to all the people in need.
This is more necessary than ever to facilitate the response to the COVID-19.
Efforts of UN agencies and their partners to respond to the humanitarian needs of the population and to the COVID pandemic must be supported and enhanced. France has already committed 4 M euros to the COVID response in the North West.
In the context of the pandemic, the crossborder mechanism has never been so relevant, both in the North West and in the North East. France remains determined to preserve that life-saving mechanism.
In the North-West, the scale-up of the humanitarian delivery through the two crossing points must absolutely continue.
In the North East, the loss of al Yarubiyah crossing point is depriving the population of the most direct and safest access to medical aid. North-East Syria needs crossborder assistance through a dedicated crossing point. A scaling up of crossborder access is an absolute emergency to respond to the needs, in particular to combat the COVID pandemic.
Until today, there has been no progress regarding crossline access to the North East: the Syrian regime takes 3 to 4 months to approve deliveries of medical supplies from Damascus. This is unacceptable.
We also deeply regret that there is no agreement yet to deliver life-saving and urgently needed aid for thousands of people in the Rukban camp.
We reject any instrumentalization of humanitarian assistance. In this regard, let me recall that European sanctions are tools to combat human rights abuses and breaches of international law. These sanctions were precisely designed not to hamper humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people, whatever their affiliation, and do not hamper the response to the COVID-19 today.
Let’s be clear: the Syrian regime has systematically destroyed medical infrastructures since the beginning of the conflict and it continues to impede humanitarian access. There is no doubt that it bears the primary responsibility for the dire humanitarian situation, which is exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic today.
Finally, I would like to welcome the release of a summary of the Board of Inquiry’s report.
We support the full implementation of the recommendations of the BoI to guarantee a deconfliction mechanism that do not put medical and humanitarian personnel and facilities at risk. We also support sharing the full report with the IIIM and the Commission of inquiry to further investigate the incidents and bring their perpetrators to justice.
Lastly, as indicated this morning, only a political solution will bring an end to the humanitarian tragedy in Syria.