Our collective efforts must allow Syrian refugees to return home in safety - 24 April 2015 [fr]
Humanitarian situation in Syria : Open debate on the situation of the refugees - Statement by Mr François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - 24 April 2015
Let me first thank the Jordanian presidency for organizing this necessary debate. I also thank all of the briefers — Ms. Valerie Amos, Mr. António Guterres, Ms. Ertharin Cousin and Ms. Angelina Jolie Pitt — for their poignant statements. There is no doubt: the Syrian tragedy is like a black hole that relentlessly obliterates human life and sets back all of our values. The civilian population is the primary victim of the conflict, which each day reveals new horrors, fuels extremism and marks the return of barbarity. The numbers speak volumes: since the conflict began, 220,000 people have been killed, 12.2 million are in need of humanitarian assistance, half of the Syrian population have fled their homes and at least 3.9 million people have sought refuge in neighbouring countries.
I commend the considerable efforts made by Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey — as well as by Iraq and Egypt — to host Syrian refugees. Those countries have been directly affected by the conflict. For them, the ongoing flow of refugees is a veritable tidal wave — socially and economically — and very often places additional pressure on their social services and natural resources. That is why we have an obligation to act.
France welcomes the success of the Kuwait conference, where donors mobilized $3.6 billion. But the humanitarian response plan for 2015 is currently covered only up to 16 per cent. It is therefore important that the pledges made be promptly disbursed, which will help in tackling the urgent needs of the United Nations agencies in Syria and in the neighbouring countries.
Beyond the financial means, however, which we must meet collectively, there is the crucial issue of access to people in need, which continues to deteriorate in Syria. The Syrian regime has the primary responsibility in that regard. It continues to deliberately target civilians, to pursue a deliberate siege strategy and to impose all types of obstacles on the delivery of humanitarian assistance, in direct violation of international humanitarian law.
In its national capacity, France has fully mobilized to support Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries. Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, French humanitarian aid amounted to €18 million for Lebanon, €18.5 million for Jordan, €3.8 million for Turkey and €2 million for Iraq. The aid is intended for Syrian refugees as well as for host communities, which bear the brunt of the massive increase in population. For example, in Lebanon, France’s support to host communities amounts to more than €12 million, primarily via the trust fund of the World Bank. A significant part of our assistance will also support the work of the World Food Programme in the region. Faced with the growing challenge of educating millions of Syrian children, France will also contribute to scholastic programmes of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Lebanon, and those of UNICEF in Jordan. Finally, we will continue to host Syrians on our territory, as we have done since the beginning of the crisis, in response to the appeal of UNHCR.
Moreover, it is essential to bolster the link between humanitarian aid and development policies. France responds to that challenge by funding development projects aimed at supporting host communities and enabling refugees to not only survive, but to live in decent socioeconomic conditions. All countries and development actors must mobilize to meet this challenge.
As mentioned by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius at the ministerial meeting of the Security Council on 27 March (see S/PV.7419), our collective efforts must also allow those exiled, especially victims of ethnic and religious violence, to return home in safety and dignity.
However, all efforts come up against the absence of a political solution to the conflict. As long as the conflict persists, along with its burden of barbarities, our efforts are simply a drop in the bucket. That is the reason that the best assistance we can provide to the Syrian people is to put an end to this heinous conflict. It is a difficult path, but a familiar one, with an inclusive political solution based on the Geneva communiqué (S/2012/522, annex). Only a transition that safeguards the Syrian State and protects its minorities — without Bashar Al-Assad — will generate a solution capable of halting the conflict and quelling extremism in the long term. For many months, France has spared no effort in appealing for a renewed political process under the aegis of the United Nations. Only the United Nations has the legitimacy to restart a dialogue on the basis of the Geneva communiqué, which is the only internationally agreed basis defining the crucial parameters of a lasting political solution. France welcomes Staffan de Mistura’s initiative to hold consultations in that regard, and is ready to lend its full support. Let us collectively rise to meet our responsibilities. We simply cannot fail.