Syria: cross-border humanitarian aid mechanism must be maintained [fr]
Statement by Ms Anne Gueguen, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Security Council - 19 December 2019
At the outset, I extend my sincere thanks to Ms. Ursula Mueller for her briefing. I welcome the participation of the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kuwait at this meeting. And I fully echo the congratulations expressed by Ambassador Heusgen to Kuwait on its outstanding contribution to the work of the Security Council.I will not repeat the figures cited by the Under-Secretary-General, as they speak for themselves — cross-border humanitarian assistance is essential and irreplaceable. The renewal of the United Nations cross-border humanitarian assistance mechanism is imperative.
Humanitarian agencies, the Secretariat, starting with the Secretary-General himself, and the countries of the region are all insistent on the need to preserve that mechanism. Allow me to give a brief reminder as to why.First, cross-border humanitarian assistance is crucial to bringing aid to the more than 4 million people in need, as the regime of Bashar Al-Assad continues to hinder humanitarian access and use humanitarian assistance for political purposes, at a time when the situation remains unstable throughout the country, including in those areas regained by the regime. There is therefore no alternative.
Secondly, the Syrian population is preparing to face the rigours of a new winter of war. As in previous years, it is essential to have access to the population throughout the Syrian territory by the most direct roads and the fastest means. The survival of millions of men, women and children depend on it. With regard to border crossings, the Al-Yarubiyah border crossing is of vital importance, as it is the route of transport for 40 per cent of medicines destined for humanitarian operations in the north-east.Certain among us insist that cross-border humanitarian assistance is no longer necessary, following the regime’s recovery of several territories, particularly in the south-west.
We know, however, that humanitarian access to those areas is still largely hampered by Damascus. In that regard, we call once again on those actors that hold influence over Damascus to guarantee safe, comprehensive and unobstructed humanitarian access throughout the entire Syrian territory — including those areas in which the regime has recently regained control — in accordance with the relevant Security Council resolutions and international humanitarian law.France calls on members of the Council to demonstrate unity and responsibility in preserving the indispensable cross-border humanitarian assistance mechanism by renewing resolution 2165 (2014) for a further 12 months.
As we have been tirelessly repeating, respect for international humanitarian law by all is essential and non-negotiable. The protection of civilians, including humanitarian and medical personnel, is an absolute priority. We reiterate our condemnation of the attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure, especially medical infrastructure, and most notably those that have taken place in north-western Syria. The board of inquiry set up by the Secretary-General on those attacks, to which we give our full support, should make it possible to shed full light on those incidents. In view of the displacement of over 70,000 more people in November and the setting in of winter, everything must be done to restore the ceasefire in Idlib.No-one denies the fact that the fight against terrorism is a crucial issue, but it cannot be used to justify violations of international humanitarian law.
Those responsible for such acts must be held accountable before the courts. Evidence will not be buried, thanks to the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism to Assist in the Investigation and Prosecution of Persons Responsible for the Most Serious Crimes under International Law Committed in the Syrian Arab Republic. We call for cooperation with all mechanisms that contribute to the fight against impunity for the crimes committed in Syria.In conclusion, I wish to reiterate that a lasting end cannot be put to the humanitarian tragedy that Syrian women and men are enduring without a credible political process. Beyond the humanitarian response, only an inclusive political solution can bring the suffering of the Syrian people to an end.
I would like in this regard to reiterate that until a credible political solution has been resolutely implemented, France, like its partners in the European Union, will not participate in the funding of reconstruction. Resolution 2254 (2015) remains our road map, and all its components must be implemented. We will have the opportunity tomorrow, during our meeting with the Special Envoy, to return to this topic and reflect on the insufficient progress made in the context of the Geneva process despite his efforts