30 May 2017 - Syria : Damascus continues to refuse access to humanitarian actors [fr]
Humanitarian situation in Syria - Statement by Ms Anne Gueguen, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - Security Council - 30 May 2017
The humanitarain situation, which Mr. Stephen O’Brien eloquently described, remains tragic and very worrying in several ways. I will highlight at least five of them.
First of all, the violation of the prohibition of the use of chemical weapons — which should have been absolute — continues to outrage our conscience. On 26 April, France sent to the Security Council its analysis of the circumstances surrounding the use of chemical weapons on 4 April in Khan Shaykhun. This analysis was carried out by our experts and is irrefutable. It establishes without at doubt the invovlement of the Syrian armed and security forces.
Secondly, the violence persists on the ground, despite the fact the signing of the 4 May agreement. The general high level has gone down in recent weeks, but the incidents that took place, particularly in the areas of Hama, Ghouta and Dar’a, show how precarious this seeming reduction in violence is. The guarantors of the truce undertook their responsibility to oversee its implementation. We therefore call upon the guarantor States of the Astana process, in particular Russia and Iran, to effectively impose the full cessation of hostilities on the Syrian regime. Improving the situation on the ground is essential to the success of the negotiations with a view to political transition in Geneva under the aegis of the United Nations.
The third matter of concern is the humanitarian situation, which is far from improving. The regime continues to block the access of humanitarian convoys and to besiege opposition-held settlements. More than 620,000 people still live in besieged areas. France reiterates its call for the immediate lifting of these sieges. Assistance must go to all the people in need, wherever they are in the Syrian territory, in accordance with humanitarian principles.
Fourthly, the implementation of local evacuation agreements concluded by the regime, after having starved and besieged civilians for many years, is generally carried out without international supervision and leads to large-scale forced displacements of the population. As the Secretary-General underscored in his report, such displacements could constitute war crimes or even crimes against humanity. We therefore demand that these agreements, which are imposed by force, cease; that evacuations be carried out in accordance with international humanitarian law; that civilians be treated with dignity; and, finally, that the ceasefire be fully respected.
Fifthly, the situation of the detainees is of particular concern. The Caesar files discuss it. According to reliable information, 500,000 people have been imprisoned by the Bashar Al-Assad regime since 2011. The reported information on the possible use by Damascus of a crematorium to conceal the extent of the summary executions perpetrated at the Sednaya prison must be considered with utmost attention . We are constantly repeating in this Chamber that the Damascus regime must respect its international obligations and allow full, safe, unconditional and unhindered access for the United Nations and its humanitarian partners to people in need throughout the Syrian territory. Its supporters must put pressure on the regime in that regard. The Syrian regime continued refusal to issue facilitation letters for the loading of convoys is wholly unjustifiable. That responsibility lies squarely on Damascus, which continues to deny access to humanitarian actors and has used starvation as a war strategy. We demand that the Syrian regime authorize the humanitarian convoys to reach people in need. Attacks on hospitals, medical facilities and humanitarian convoys, as well as school buildings and homes persist.
The Secretary-General has reiterated his appeal to refer the case to the International Criminal Court. We must shed all possible light on those innumerable violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. In the face of that tragic assessment, it is more urgent than ever to usher in a political transition in the framework of the Geneva negotiations. France fully supports the negotiation process in Geneva under the auspices of the Special Envoy, — in accordance with resolution 2354 (2017) and the Geneva communiqué (S/2012/522, annex) — as the only way to put an end to the suffering of the Syrian people and the humanitarian tragedy unfolding before our eyes. More than ever, we reiterate the urgency of reaching a political solution that will culminate in a genuine transition in Syria.