The risk of the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in Syria is extremely worrying [fr]
Statement by Mr. Nicolas de Rivière, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Security Council – 30 March 2020
I first want to thank Mr. Lowcock and Mr. Pedersen for their presentations and, above all, for their tireless efforts.
It is crucial that the Security Council continues to exchange regularly on the situation in Syria.
The top priority is the implementation of an immediate and sustainable nationwide ceasefire to facilitate the efforts to respond to the COVID-19 crisis.
We support 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 to work actively in this direction. The United Nations have to remain at the forefront of these efforts, in accordance with the resolution 2254.
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. A nationwide ceasefire is the only way to facilitate prevention and response actions to the COVID-19. This is all the more necessary as the implementation of the Russian-Turkish agreement of March 5th on Idlib remains fragile and uncertain.
We also fully support the call of the Special Envoy for large scale releases of detainees and abductees, especially political prisoners, as well as immediate access of relevant humanitarian organizations to detention facilities.
We call on all parties, in particular the Syrian regime, to ensure a safe and unhindered humanitarian access to all the people in need.
The UN agencies and their partners are scaling up their efforts to respond to the humanitarian needs of the population and to the COVID crisis. These efforts need to be supported and enhanced.
In this context, the crossborder mechanism has never been so relevant in the North West. UNICEF and WFP were very clear after their visit in Syria: there is no alternative to the crossborder mechanism. The scale-up of the humanitarian delivery through the two crossing points must continue. France remains determined to preserve that life-saving mechanism. We have committed 25M euros for 2020 to the humanitarian response to the North West, including 3M euros for the COVID response.
In the North East, we deplore that the recent announcement of the regime regarding the crossline delivery of medical items has not materialized. The attempts of the regime to dictate the conditions for the delivery of aid are unacceptable and in blatant violation of humanitarian principles. It is essential that the WHO convoy in Damascus can deliver aid to all the people in need in the North East.
Urgent steps need to be taken to ensure adequate medical care and protective measures in all places of detention.
It is urgent to restart the political process and to broaden its scope to all the elements of UNSCR 2254.
We support the attempts of the Special Envoy in order to find an agreement between the parties to resume the meetings of the constitutional committee, and we welcome today’s announcement. However, it is clear that the Syrian regime is unwilling to engage in a credible political process or to engage at all, as the last five months have sufficiently demonstrated.
In this context, we call on Geir Pedersen to make it clear to the Security Council when he deems he is no longer able to continue his efforts on the constitutional committee. We also urge him to work on all aspects of resolution 2254, as the political process cannot be reduced to constitutional discussions. The ceasefire is one of these aspects, as are the elections and the conditions to hold a transparent and free ballot. The temporary lull obtained in the North West must be used for this purpose.
In conclusion, I reiterate my call on Russia to convince the regime to abide by a national ceasefire in the context of the COVID outbreak. Our collective cooperation is more needed than never and we need to tackle the crisis together, despite our disagreements on the Syrian war. Thank you.