Syria: France grants emergency aid to meet civilian needs [fr]
Statement by Mr. Nicolas de Rivière, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Security Council - 24 October 2019
At the outset, I would like to thank Ms. Mueller, Mr. Khiari and Ms. Marcaillou for their briefings.
The situation in north-eastern Syria is a major concern.
A few days ago, the Council expressed its deep concern about the growing terrorist threat and the deterioration in the humanitarian situation in the north-east.
For France, those concerns remain valid.
The European Union has clearly expressed its condemnation of Turkey’s unilateral military action, as what is happening in north-eastern Syria is serious. The gains made after several years of effective fighting against Da’esh, carried out together with the Syrian Democratic Forces, are in jeopardy. The threats posed by the spread of terrorists and the strengthening of underground Da’esh cells is real. Responding to them is our priority.
That is why France has called for the holding of a ministerial meeting of the members of the Coalition against Da’esh in the near future.
The impact of the offensive on the humanitarian situation is significant. France will do everything possible in its power to maintain its assistance. The President of the Republic has decided to allocate €10 million in emergency aid to meet needs. France also underscores the decisive role being played by non-governmental organizations that are already present in the north-east.
The European Union will withhold funding for stabilization and development efforts if the necessary conditions for the return of refugees are not met.
In that regard, we take note of the memorandum of understanding reached by Turkey and Russia on Tuesday. Our priority is that the truce be extended and that a solution to the crisis be found through diplomatic means. To that end, the President of France has expressed his willingness to engage in a frank and exacting discussion with Turkey, in cooperation with his European partners. No matter what, the truce must be supported by progress in three areas: pursuing the struggle against terrorism, the protection of civilians and the rapid resumption of the political process.
All must respect international humanitarian law. It is non-negotiable.
The protection of civilians must be a top priority. We condemn attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure, in particular humanitarian and medical infrastructure. The intensification of fighting in the north-west in recent days is unacceptable. Every effort must be made to ensure that the ceasefire in Idlib is respected.
The fight against terrorism is a crucial issue, which no one disputes. It cannot be cited, however, to justify violations of international humanitarian law. Those who commit terrorist acts will have to face justice. We call on all parties to cooperate with the various mechanisms established by the United Nations to combat impunity.
We must spare no effort to ensure safe and unhindered humanitarian access throughout Syria. I reiterate the vital and irreplaceable need for cross-border humanitarian aid. We call on the Council to show unity and to shoulder its responsibility in preserving that critical gain through the renewal of resolution 2165 (2014). There is no alternative to providing assistance to the millions of people in need of it.
In this difficult situation, we must remain ready to act in support of the Syrian political process, which remains the only path to peace.
Resolution 2254 (2015) remains our road map. All of its provisions must be implemented.
The Council welcomed the announcement of the agreement on the Constitutional Committee. It must meet in Geneva to begin its work as soon as possible. We support the efforts of Geir Pedersen. This is the first step towards a genuine inter-Syrian process.
The launch of the Constitutional Committee is a starting point, but progress must be made in parallel on the other aspects of the political process.
This means creating a safe and neutral environment and silencing the weapons throughout Syria. It also requires confidence-building measures, in particular the release of detained and abducted persons. Light must be shed on forced disappearances.
Such an environment is imperative to holding of free elections, monitored by the United Nations, in which all Syrians, including those who had to flee because of the war, must be able to participate.
All those factors are key to achieving a credible political transition. Until that transition is definitively under way, France, like its European Union partners, will not contribute to financing the reconstruction.
The situation in Syria is serious. There are many challenges, but France is more determined than ever to work with its partners to build peace in Syria.