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Syria - Humanitarian Resolution

UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL

Explanation of Vote by HE Mr Gary Quinlan, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations

 

Thank you Mr President.

We welcome the unanimous adoption of this resolution by the Council today and thank our co-authors, Jordan and Luxembourg, for the work done in bringing this resolution to fruition.

Decisively, the Council has been united today in recognising that the humanitarian situation in Syria – already the greatest humanitarian crisis this century – has become even more desperate and that immediate action is necessary to meet the humanitarian needs of the Syrian people.

While the adoption of this resolution is obviously welcome, it should not have been necessary. Resolution 2139 set out very clearly in February the Council’s expectations of what the Syrian parties need to do in order to relieve the terrible suffering of the Syrian people, including allowing humanitarian aid to be delivered across borders and conflict lines.

But as the Secretary-General has advised us four times – each month – since its adoption in February, resolution 2139 has been ignored. As a result the humanitarian situation in Syria has actually worsened.

Since February the number of people in need of assistance has increased by one and a half million from 9.3 million to 10.8 – half the population – and those in areas out of reach of assistance has grown by more than a million to 4.7 million. Only 1% of people in besieged areas are being reached.  Only 12% of those in hard to reach areas are receiving aid – and the amount of this meagre assistance has actually declined each month since February.  Six to seven thousand new refugees are generated every day.  At least one family in Syria becomes displaced every minute.

The Security Council was forced to act today because of the failure by the Syrian parties to implement Resolution 2139. It was also forced to act because of the cynical manipulation of humanitarian aid by the regime as part of its military strategy – a strategy that continues to include the outrageous use of aerial bombardment and barrel bombs to deliberately target and kill Syrian civilians, in defiance of this Council and of international humanitarian law.  Damascus has pursued a calculated policy of arbitrary denial of desperately needed humanitarian relief.  It prohibits the delivery of specific life-saving medical supplies as a matter of policy; medical supplies are routinely removed from WHO convoys.

The resolution adopted today reaffirms the Council’s determination that the Syrian government and other parties to the conflict must transform their approach to humanitarian access and delivery. It is time for the Syrian parties to put the interests of Syria’s citizens first.  Life-saving assistance must be delivered through the most direct routes – including across borders and conflict lines – to reach people in need as the United Nations determines.

The UN has advised that the four border crossing points which have been identified in today’s resolution will allow at least an additional 1.3 million Syrians to be reached – and perhaps as many as two million if successfully utilised.

The Syrian parties are obliged to ensure that immediate and unhindered assistance reaches those in need, including by allowing aid across conflict lines. They must now cooperate with the UN’s humanitarian agencies and their implementing partners to ensure this happens.

Both this resolution and resolution 2139 – which of course remains in force – must be implemented in full. We are under no illusions as to how hard this will be; even more so as the situation deteriorates every day and as the scale of what is needed substantially increases every day. But the Council has affirmed again in today’s resolution that there will be real consequences – measures – for non-compliance.

This resolution also reaffirms that the only sustainable solution to the Syrian crisis is through a political process. The appointment of Mr Staffan de Mistura as the Secretary-General’s new Special Envoy for Syria is a positive step towards resuming negotiations towards a political solution.  The Syrian parties – and particularly the Syrian government – must move now to cooperate closely with Mr de Mistura and make genuine and urgent efforts towards bringing an end to this conflict that has so devastated Syria, its people and the region.

Thank you Mr President.

 

(As delivered)

 

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