We call for an immediate ceasefire in Syria
Syria - Remarks to the press by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - 8 February 2018
We are going to have a series of meetings this morning. The one I wanted to underscore the importance of is the AOB meeting on the humanitarian situation in Syria.
Indeed, in Syria we are now back to the darkest period of this conflict, with the highest death toll among civilians over the last year. And as we speak the situation is deteriorating by the day, in Idlib and Eastern Ghouta in particular.
The Syrian regime keeps bombing and besieging its own population. Idlib is a new Aleppo in the making. “Idleb c’est un nouvel Alep qui commence sous nos yeux”.
Eastern Ghouta is experiencing a Middle-Age style siege, that is totally unacceptable. So number one, the situation cannot be worse.
Number two, you remember that Mark Lowcock last time proposed five points in order to ask for immediate progress on the ground. It will not come as a surprise but there has been none so far. This is unacceptable.
That’s why France calls for a strong reaction of the Security Council in order to call for an immediate ceasefire in Syria and a full and unhindered humanitarian access to all people in need. In our views, this is the goal of the consultations we are about to have.
Again this call is made for two reasons :
1/ number one, because there is a new humanitarian tragedy unfolding before our eyes, with a scope unknown over the last year.
2/ secondly, because, and let’s be clear about it, the stabilization of the situation in Idlib and Eastern Ghouta must be an integral part of our efforts to give a boost to a UN-led political process in Syria. One cannot separate the situation on the ground from our efforts on the political front. Our call for a strong reaction of the Security Council is inseparable from the political effort that we also push for in order to give a boost to the Geneva negotiations. This is part of our efforts to put in place a neutral environment in Syria, that is needed to reach a political solution.
Without this neutral environment, in other words without a real stabilization of Idlib and Eastern Ghouta, we believe a political progress is doomed to fail.
Q : Are you in a vicious circle, because Russia is blocking any substantial product from the Security Council, and the US Ambassador has been asking “why are we coming here all the time” since if you are not able to do anything ?
I agree with Nikki Haley and I believe we both agree also that it is absolutely needed for the Security Council not to look away. We cannot give up and “capitulate” on such a crucial peace and security issue. We all know it will be very difficult to get an agreement within the Security Council to have this strong reaction France is calling for. But again, we cannot look away. We need to speak out and be very clear about it. This is our moral and political responsibility. Do I believe it will be easy ? No. But it is an additional reason in my views to be very clear about it, including publicly, because what is happening is frankly a shame.
Q : You mentioned Eastern Ghouta and Idlib, what about the situation in Afrin ? Does your call for ceasefire include that Turkish operation in Syria ?
When we call for a ceasefire it is about the whole of Syria. And the situation in Afrin will of course be part of the conversation we are about to have with our colleagues of the Security Council. France has reacted publicly about it, so I don’t want to add something. But it is definitively part of the equation.