13 December 2016 - Syria: The worst-case scenario is occurring in Aleppo [fr]
Emergency meeting on Aleppo - Statement by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - Security Council - 13 December 2016
I thank the Spanish presidency for agreeing to convene today’s urgent meeting at the request of France and the United Kingdom. I also thank the Secretary-General for his briefing and his commitment.
As we speak, the worst-case scenario is occurring in Aleppo. The massacre of civilians is taking place under the eyes of the international community. According to the information we have, summary executions have been carried out in the streets of eastern Aleppo. Civilians are being murdered, and at times burnt alive in their homes. The dead bodies of civilians and children litter the streets of Aleppo.
The worst is that that abomination was predictable, as we have said here. We are all familiar with the barbaric methods of the Bashar Al-Assad regime. We are perfectly aware of the disregard he has shown for the lives of civilians since the beginning of the Syrian conflict. We all know very well of what could happen in the next few hours to some 120,000 people who are still trapped in eastern Aleppo, and who, if we do nothing, could be subjected to the brutality of the Al-Assad forces.
An immediate end to the massacre is absolutely critical in order to allow the evacuation under international protection of all civilians towards the destination of their choice and to authorize the immediate and unimpeded access of humanitarian assistance. That is the message that France and its partners conveyed during the meeting that the French Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Jean-Marc Ayrault, held in Paris on 10 December. It is the message that the General Assembly conveyed to the world through resolution 71/130, adopted by an overwhelming majority a few days ago. Once again, France forcefully calls upon those who have the capacity to act, particularly Russia, to put an immediate end to the bloodshed and respond to the humanitarian emergency, which is, once again, an absolute emergency.
Let us make no mistake: the tragedy of Aleppo is not the painful path that we must go down to finally achieve the stabilization of Syria — a so-called expedient and rebuilt Syria. No, at the end of this plunge into the abyss, of these children maimed by bombs, disfigured by hunger, there is the promise of an endless conflict from which terrorist groups will be the primary beneficiaries. The tragedy of Aleppo — we must repeat this and hammer it home — mechanically fuels radicalization, and therefore terrorism. It is a gift to the terrorists. Therefore, the comparison of Aleppo today and Guernica during the Spanish civil war appears more relevant than ever. Aleppo is both the epicentre of the worst humanitarian tragedy of the early twenty-first century and a black hole that sucks up and destroys all the values of the United Nations. Moreover, it carries the promise of terrible tragedies to follow.
Finally, allow me to stress that the tragedy of Aleppo did not happen by accident. We will need to dismantle the processes that have made possible this plunge into the abyss. This tragedy is the result of the savagery of some people, of the active complicity and complete cynicism of others, but also of a great deal of cowardice and indifference and — we need to have the courage to say it — of the powerlessness of the international community and the United Nations. In order to avoid this collective powerlessness that we find ourselves in, which seriously calls into question the very credibility of the Security Council, France has proposed, together with Mexico, an initiative allowing for the suspension of the resort to the veto by permanent member States in cases of mass atrocities. That initiative, which France will continue to promote, has already received the support of approximately 100 countries.
I do not want to go on too long, but in these terrible times for Aleppo — a city that has seen so many brilliant civilizations and that is now delivered up to barbarity — France again calls for action and therefore for the necessary uniting around the common goals founded on the minimum principle of humanity, which the Secretary-General has just recalled. Tens of thousands of lives are at stake. They have just one glimmer of hope, and they depend on us. Let us therefore act.