Syria

Warning ‘Future Looks Bleak’ for Syrians Living through Twelfth Year of Crisis, Top United Nations Officials Urge More Resources, Focus on Conflict

SC/14870

SECURITY COUNCIL
9022ND MEETING (PM)

Delegates Diverge over Suitable Methods for Providing Life-saving Aid

Senior United Nations officials today urged the Security Council not to forget about the dire humanitarian situation in Syria in light of other conflicts, as members discussed the recent conclusion of the seventh session of the Constitutional Committee and diverged over appropriate modalities for providing life-saving aid.

Geir Pedersen, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria, briefed the Council that “Syria is a hot conflict, not a frozen one”. Airstrikes and clashes are intensifying, five foreign armies are operating in the country and terrorism remains a significant threat. Further, Syria is one of the greatest humanitarian crises of the era, and civilians continue to die, suffer and be displaced by the millions both inside and outside of the country.

“Therefore, my message today is simple: focus on Syria,” he urged, stressing that the current strategic stalemate on the ground should not mislead anyone into thinking that the conflict needs less attention or fewer resources. This situation requires a comprehensive political solution, and he recalled that the seventh session of the Constitutional Committee concluded on 25 March amid limited attempts to narrow differences. He appealed to delegations, therefore, to prepare texts for discussion at the eighth session, to be held from 28 May to 3 June, that focus on matters on which most Syrians could agree.

Turning to the humanitarian front, he urged all concerned to expand cross-line and cross-border assistance, to enhance early-recovery efforts and to be generous with the resources needed for humanitarian work. However, many of the things from which Syrians suffer most are inherently political in nature, and will require political actors to take difficult steps, involving negotiations and give-and-take. “We can always do more to alleviate the worst effects of this crisis with humanitarian assistance,” he stressed, but also called for the identification of concrete, reciprocal and verifiable measures that could begin to shift the dynamics of the conflict.

Joyce Msuya, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, next briefed the Council, pointing out that — as the eyes of the world turn to other conflicts — Syria is on the verge of becoming yet another forgotten crisis despite millions of Syrians struggling each month to survive. Fighting in many areas continues, civilians are being injured and killed, and the economic crisis continues unabated. The basic necessities for a healthy, dignified life are even further out of reach for millions of people due to escalating food and fuel prices, and unprecedented water shortages in 2021 are already taking their toll on farmers and livestock producers.

“For Syrians living through the twelfth year of this crisis, the future looks bleak,” she said. Noting that in 2021 the United Nations dispatched some 800 trucks of cross-border aid each month — consistently reaching 2.4 million people — she stressed that current cross-line missions cannot at this time substitute the size and scope of the cross-border operations they complement. All channels for delivering life-saving aid to those in need should remain open and available, and she urged the renewal of the United Nations cross-border authorization in July.

Nirvana Shawky, Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa of CARE International, then told the Council that the gap between humanitarian needs and the resources required to meet them was already growing into a chasm before Syrians and their neighbours began to feel the impacts of the crisis in Ukraine. She urged the Council to, at a minimum, reauthorize resolution 2585 (2021) for at least one year, as the cross-border operation cannot be ended without a long-term and concerted commitment to address the challenges Syrians are facing. The size and scale of the current, massive cross-border operation cannot be replicated by any other modality, she stressed.

In the ensuing debate, many Council members echoed the point that the cross-border mechanism remains essential, as there is no alternative to its size and scope. Others emphasized the importance of cross-line operations and called for increased international support for early-recovery initiatives. Members also stressed the importance of continued dialogue in the Constitutional Committee, while also noting that progress towards a political solution requires addressing security concerns within the country.

The representative of the United States, expressing support for all modalities for aid to reach those in need, stressed the irreplaceability of the cross-border aid mechanism and called on the Council to authorize and expand its mandate in the coming months. “We all need to do better for the Syrian people,” he said, while noting that humanitarian aid is only a stopgap. A nationwide ceasefire and a political solution are ultimately required to end the crisis.

The Russian Federation’s representative also underscored the importance of a political solution through the work of the Constitutional Committee, which provides Syrians the opportunity to engage in direct dialogue relating to the future foundations of their country. He went on to say, however, that over the past nine months, only three cross-line convoys have reached Idlib, apparently justified by a lack of necessary agreements and indications of unsafe working conditions. In light of this reluctance, arguments for extending cross-border aid have practically run out.

India’s delegate similarly noted that ongoing cross-border operations continue to negatively impact Syria’s sovereignty and encouraged United Nations agencies to expand efforts to enhance cross-line operations. He also stressed the urgent need for serious attempts towards a nationwide ceasefire, pointing out that the withdrawal of foreign forces is essential in that regard and reiterating that the global fight against terrorism should not be compromised for narrow political gains.

The representative of Gabon, also speaking for Ghana and Kenya, echoed concerns over the presence of foreign military forces in Syria, emphasizing that the country should not be used as a ground for other States to settle accounts. Encouraging efforts to achieve political stability, he called on the Council to build on the unity shown through the unanimous adoption of the resolution on the cross-border mechanism in July 2021 to make necessary progress on the political path.

Syria’s delegate underscored that ending the illegal foreign presence of the United States, Turkey and Israel in his country will help eliminate the terrorist presence, end all forms of displacement, restore Syrian national economic resources and improve the humanitarian and living situation in the country. He went on to say that the United States and its Western allies continue to obstruct the delivery of cross-line aid within Syrian territory to justify their continued violation of Syria’s sovereignty through the so-called cross-border aid mechanism that serves as a lifeline for terrorists. However, Syria looks forward to the next round of the Constitutional Committee, without external interference or the imposition of predetermined results or timetables.

Also speaking were representatives of Ireland, United Arab Emirates, Albania, Norway, France, China, Brazil, Mexico, United Kingdom, Turkey and Iran.

The meeting began at 3:02 p.m. and ended at 5:16 p.m.

Briefings

GEIR PEDERSEN, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria, briefed the Council that “Syria is a hot conflict, not a frozen one”. Airstrikes and clashes are intensifying amid continued exchanges of rocket fire and shelling across all frontlines. He also expressed concern over the fact that five foreign armies operate on different sides of the Syrian conflict, pointing to recent strikes attributed to Israel, drone strikes attributed to Turkey, air strikes attributed to the Russian Federation and reports of rocket fire on United States troops attributed to Iranian-backed groups. Any of these flashpoints could be further exacerbated by heightened geopolitical tensions outside of Syria. Further, terrorism is still a significant threat, with at least two listed terrorist groups carrying out operations or holding territory.

“Syria is still among the greatest humanitarian crises of our era,” he continued, as Syrian civilians continue to be killed, suffer and be displaced by the millions inside and outside the country. “Therefore, my message today is simple: focus on Syria,” he urged, stressing that the current strategic stalemate on the ground should not mislead anyone into thinking that the conflict needs less attention or fewer resources. A conflict of this scale requires a comprehensive political solution in line with Council resolution 2254 (2015) and, while a constitutional track could contribute to such a solution, it must build trust and confidence to do so. Recalling that the seventh session of the Constitutional Committee concluded on 25 March amid limited attempts to narrow differences, he said that invitations were issued today for the eighth session to be held from 28 May to 3 June and appealed to delegations to prepare texts for discussion that focus on matters on which most Syrians could agree.

Turning to the humanitarian front, he urged all concerned to expand cross-line and cross-border assistance, to enhance efforts for early recovery to build resilience in line with resolution 2585 (2021) and to be generous with the resources needed for humanitarian work. Noting, however, that many of the things Syrians suffer from most are inherently political in nature, he said that addressing these issues requires difficult steps by political actors, involving negotiations and give-and-take. Tens of thousands of Syrians remain detained, abducted or missing, and without progress on this file many Syrians will be unable to even begin to think of moving on. Further, Syria remains the biggest displacement crisis in the world — half the pre-war population are refugees or internally displaced — and some data shows that the rate of return continues to decrease. The fears and concerns that prevent Syrian refugees and internally displaced persons from returning must be addressed, he said.

He also pointed out that Syrians still face a devastating economic crisis, citing World Food Programme (WFP) data stating that the price of basic food items increased by 800 per cent between 2019 and 2021. Syrians have been forced to choose among buying food, fuel or medicine, and this economic predicament will only fuel the humanitarian and displacement crises. “We can always do more to alleviate the worst effects of this crisis with humanitarian assistance,” he stressed, while also urging the identification of concrete, reciprocal and verifiable measures that could begin to shift conflict dynamics.

JOYCE MSUYA, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, said that as the eyes of the world turn to other conflicts, Syria is on the verge of becoming yet another forgotten crisis, with millions of Syrians struggling each month to survive. For many, their situation has never been more dire since violence erupted in 2011. Fighting in many areas continues, and civilians are being killed and injured. In February and March, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) verified the death of 92 civilians, including 25 children. “The obligations of international humanitarian law in this area could not be any clearer. They continue to be flouted,” she said. There is a need to address the dire situation of Al-Hol camp residents, most of them women and children. Murders, looting and vandalism occur frequently; five women were killed in the camp in just the last week. She reiterated the call for the full repatriation of third-country nationals from camps in north-east Syria, as well as for improvements to security that are consistent with the civilian character of the camp.

Turning to the economic crisis, which continues unabated, she said fuel shortages and lack of electricity impact the delivery of basic health, education, and water and sanitation services. The basic necessities for a healthy, dignified life are even further out of reach for millions of people due to escalating food and fuel prices, she said, noting that food prices jumped another 18 per cent between February and March. Reliable access to sufficient and safe water across the north remains a major challenge. Unprecedented water shortages in 2021 are already taking their toll on farmers and livestock producers. Some sub-districts in the north-east are reporting harvest losses of over 75 per cent, she said, adding that the loss of crops and agricultural livelihoods will likely worsen already high rates of food insecurity and malnutrition, with women and girls disproportionately affected due to their prominent role in the agriculture sector. “For Syrians living through the twelfth year of this crisis, the future looks bleak,” she said. “We simply do not have the money needed”.

Over 25 per cent of the overall request for humanitarian aid to Syria will contribute to early recovery and resilience, as featured in 570 projects in humanitarian appeal for Syria this year, she said. For example, to improve access to education in newly accessible areas of Ar-Raqqa, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) rehabilitated 69 classrooms and three water, sanitation and hygiene facilities over the past two months, benefiting 1,100 students. Three cross-line convoys have now deployed to north-west Syria delivering food and other essential humanitarian items, including health supplies, she continued. Further inter-agency convoys are to be deployed in May. “This is important progress, but it is modest in the face of the tremendous needs, and the UN will continue to work with all relevant parties to expand it,” she said. In the north-east, the Organization should be given the space to coordinate the humanitarian response from within the country from its hub in Qamishli.

A staggering 4.1 million people in north-west Syria also need humanitarian aid, she said. In 2021, the United Nations dispatched some 800 trucks of cross-border aid each month, consistently reaching 2.4 million people. While current cross-line missions complement the massive cross-border operation, they cannot substitute its size and scope at this point. All channels for delivering life-saving aid to people in need should remain open and available. Renewing the United Nations cross-border authorization in July remains essential to save lives in the north-west, she said, echoing the Secretary-General’s call for the Security Council to maintain consensus on renewing resolution 2585 (2021).

NIRVANA SHAWKY, Regional Director for Middle East and North Africa, CARE International, said her organization has been working in Syria since 2013, reaching more than 9 million people since the beginning of the crisis, working with Syrian organizations across the country and implementing programmes directly. Describing the current humanitarian situation, she said 60 per cent of people are reducing their food intake to ensure their children are fed. Only 35 per cent of the women CARE spoke to have access to safe toilets. Collecting water can take more than an hour and most women rely on a male family member to fetch water, simply because it is unsafe to do otherwise. Half of the health facilities across northern Syria, including mental health clinics, have been destroyed. As of March 2022, only 4.4 per cent of the population in north-west Syria has been fully vaccinated against COVID‑19.

The gap between the humanitarian needs and the resources required to meet them was already growing into a chasm, even before Syrians and their neighbours in Middle East and North Africa began to feel the impacts of the Ukraine crisis, she said. In 71 per cent of the communities, child and early forced marriage is a growing problem. More than 5 million people in Syria who directly depend on the Euphrates River are at risk of losing all access to drinking water and water for agriculture. Climate change and conflict are compounding water security for millions of people, as north-east Syria experiences its worst drought in 70 years. Throughout Syria, 14.6 million people need assistance and protection, a staggering increase of 1.2 million people compared to last year. “The ability to reach vulnerable families through the most direct, efficient, and timely modalities is not a nice-to-have, but a matter of life and death,” she stressed.

To achieve this, the Security Council, at a minimum, must reauthorize resolution 2585 (2021) for at least one year, she said. As humanitarian needs grow, so must life-saving assistance. The cross-border operation cannot be ended without a long-term and concerted commitment to address the challenges Syrians are facing, which in turn is predicated on the Syrian conflict ending. The size and scale of the current massive cross-border operation cannot be replicated by non-governmental organizations or via any other modalities, she said, calling for a continued commitment to early recovery and resilience.

In two weeks, the United Nations, civil society, policymakers, and donors will gather for the sixth Brussels Conference, she said, urging the organizers and participating States to first and foremost listen to the voices of Syrians and Syrian civil society, who must be at the centre of any discussions and decisions about the country’s future. At this stage in the crisis, listening and being accountable to Syrians should be non-negotiable. “I do not wish to leave you with a sense of hopelessness, but rather inspired and challenged to use the tools you already have at your disposal — resources and diplomacy — to catalyse a Syrian-centred aid and policy response,” she said.

Statements

RICHARD M. MILLS (United States), spotlighting the fact that vulnerable populations in Syria are being forced to make horrible choices, underscored that “we all need to do better for the Syrian people”. He recalled the unanimous adoption of Council resolution 2585 (2021) and said that the United States is committed to fully implementing all aspects thereof, including by providing financial support for early recovery. He also supported all modalities for aid to reach those in need, pointing out that cross-line aid cannot yet meet the vast needs of Syria’s population. “The cross-border mechanism remains an irreplaceable lifeline for millions of Syrians,” he stressed, and the Council must reauthorize and expand the cross-border humanitarian mandate in the coming months. He also urged those present to acknowledge the primary cause of 11 years of conflict in Syria, which has been perpetrated by the Assad regime against its own people. Humanitarian aid is only a stopgap; a nationwide ceasefire and a political solution pursuant to resolution 2254 (2015) are required. To this end, he urged the regime’s delegation to meaningfully engage in the work of the Constitutional Committee.

VASSILY NEBENZIA (Russian Federation), noting the seventh meeting of the Constitutional Committee in March, stressed the importance of Syrians having the opportunity to engage in direct dialogue relating to the future foundations of their country. He also urged the Special Envoy to adhere to his mandate, as questions have arisen about the Envoy’s step-based initiative. As Damascus and the opposition both reject this idea, such a scenario might have a negative impact on the Special Envoy’s work, including in the context of preparing for the Constitutional Committee’s next meeting. He also highlighted the volatility of the situation on the ground, with regular clashes around Turkish zones of operation, terrorists gaining strength east of the Euphrates, fighters being trained by United States forces and arbitrary missile strikes being conducted by Israel. He went on to say that nine months after the adoption of resolution 2585 (2021), only three cross-line convoys have reached Idlib, apparently justified by a lack of necessary agreements and indications of unsafe working conditions. In light of this reluctance, arguments for further extending cross-border aid have practically run out.

GERALDINE BYRNE NASON (Ireland) recalled that in July 2021 the Council collectively adopted resolution 2585 (2021), welcoming the ongoing efforts to implement the text. Ireland and Norway, as co-penholders, strongly support the use of all modalities to supply aid to the significant number of Syrians in need. She also welcomed the third cross-line delivery, which took place during the reporting period, and the significant progress made in terms of early recovery activities. Major donors such as the European Union are stepping up their support and investment for early recovery, and thousands of civilians are already benefiting from the rehabilitation of infrastructure and utilities, sewage networks and irrigation networks. She encouraged continued efforts to increase support to early recovery in all of Syria. Aid provided through the cross-border operation also remains indispensable, she said, stressing there is no alternative which could replicate its scale and scope.

MOHAMED ISSA ABUSHAHAB (United Arab Emirates) emphasized the importance of dialogue by all parties, especially through the work of the Constitutional Committee, to resolve the crisis. Progress in the political process requires addressing security challenges, he noted, pointing to recent deterioration, as seen in Al-Hol camp and through the recent increase in murders and violence against women. Regarding the humanitarian situation, he underscored the importance of focusing on providing basic needs and essential services to the Syrian people, particularly in light of the unprecedented rise in the prices of basic commodities. He specifically drew attention to the difficult conditions of women and girls, which are manifested in the alarming increase in suicide among them and the continued crimes of sexual violence. As the July renewal of the cross-border aid mechanism to Syria approaches, he expressed hope that the Council will consider this matter in an objective and logical manner.

FERIT HOXHA (Albania) said the conflict in Syria is a catastrophe without an end, and each time the Council meets, the situation reaches a grim milestone. Turning to the missing persons, he said the Syrian regime does not care to reveal information about their whereabout, keeping the lives of families who are searching for their loved ones suspended. He called on the Special Envoy and Member States to support the creation of a mechanism for missing persons and a consultative or contact group to provide urgent action and support for the detainees, missing persons and forced disappearances’ files. He also expressed support for 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 Syria since March 2011 and referral of these cases to the International Criminal Court. “Impunity is a license to kill,” he said. “Therefore, silence is not a choice.”

MICHEL XAVIER BIANG (Gabon), speaking also for Ghana and Kenya, expressed concern about the presence of foreign military forces in Syria, which could undermine regional and international security. He then emphasized that Syria should not be used as a ground for other States to settle accounts. He encouraged the efforts of regional and international actors to achieve political stability in Syria in accordance with resolution 2254 (2015), while respecting the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Syria. He also condemned all acts of violence as well as those emanating from the activities of terrorist groups, such as ISIL/Da’esh and Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, who continue to increase the toll of civilian victims, many of whom are women and children. The Council must build on the unity shown by its members with the unanimous adoption of resolution 2585 (2021) on the cross-border mechanism for humanitarian aid delivery in July 2021. The same unity is needed to make the necessary progress on the political path, he stressed.

MONA JUUL (Norway) called on all participants to prioritize constructive engagement towards concrete outcomes for the next session of the Constitutional Committee. She highlighted again the issue of persons who are missing and unlawfully deprived of their liberty, expressing deep concern about the lack of progress on the release of detainees, and the dissemination of information to families of the missing. Progress on that file is essential for breaking through the current political stalemate, she noted, calling on all parties to allow humanitarian actors, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), to visit detention centres and carry out their important work. She went on to draw particular attention to the troubling reports of the use of sexual violence in detention settings in Syria, citing incidents about how sexual violence is used to humiliate, punish and silence the voices of politically active women. Calling for an end to all sexual and gender-based violence in Syria, she also underlined the irreplaceable value of women's full, safe, equal and meaningful participation in political processes.

NATHALIE BROADHURST ESTIVAL (France) stressed that weapons have never been a lasting solution to conflict, and that rehabilitating the Syrian regime with nothing in return will not bring stability to either the country or the region. Food insecurity in Syria has increased — exacerbated by a loss of supplies from Ukraine due to Russian aggression — and many do not have access to COVID-19 vaccines or medical care. Against that backdrop, she underscored that the cross-border humanitarian mechanism remains crucial and must be renewed “because it does save lives”. Further, such mechanism will be necessary until assistance can reach all people in need across Syria, and progress in cross-line access should continue in the country’s north-west and north-east. Expressing regret that the seventh meeting of the Constitutional Committee did not lead to tangible results, she said that without a political solution French and European positions on lifting sanctions and normalizing relations will remain unchanged.

DAI BING (China) welcomed discussions held at the seventh meeting of the Constitutional Committee in March, which were the result of the Special Envoy’s diligent mediation efforts. He called on all parties to maintain communications with the Special Envoy to advance the political process led and owned by Syrians, and emphasized that addressing the issues of foreign occupation and terrorism can help create the conditions necessary for such a process to succeed. The international community must also help the Syrian people overcome socioeconomic difficulties and move towards reconstruction by providing assistance without preconditions. He went on to welcome the cross-line aid operations in north-west Syria, urging relevant parties to provide access and security guarantees for the same. The cross-border humanitarian-aid mechanism, however, is controversial politically, legally and in practice, and the risk of such aid being appropriated by terrorists cannot be ruled out. Against that backdrop, he called for efforts to promote the gradual transition from cross-border to cross-line operations.

JOAO GENÉSIO DE ALMEIDA FILHO (Brazil), pointing to multiple challenges faced by Syria after an 11-year conflict, said that only a Syrian-owned and Syrian-led, United Nations-facilitated political process, with due regard for the preservation of Syria’s territorial integrity, will bring lasting peace. An agreement towards a sustainable nationwide ceasefire is urgently needed, he said. Stressing that civilians should be protected at all times, he underlined the physical integrity and well-being of children as a fundamental priority, calling for efforts to provide them with essential services, including education and health. Rising humanitarian needs demand the maintenance of a predictable and regular delivery of international aid to the Syrian people both through cross-line and cross-border operations, he said, welcoming the news of a third cross-line United Nations convoy at the end of March. He went on to note that the conflict in Ukraine risks increasing food insecurity in many places around the world and the operational costs of humanitarian assistance, encouraging initiatives to independently assess the impact of sanctions on the daily life of civilians, particularly on vulnerable groups. Sanctions should never undermine access to food, shelter and essential health supplies for those most in need, he stressed.

ALICIA GUADALUPE BUENROSTRO MASSIEU (Mexico) agreed with the Secretary-General on the need to maintain the Bab Al Hawa border crossing as the humanitarian situation deteriorated further. Now there are 4.1 million people requiring humanitarian aid in the country’s north-west, with rates of food insecurity reaching 51 per cent. She also underlined the consequences that the critical humanitarian situation has on women and girls, including the risk of gender-based violence, citing the increase in the number of female suicides. She reiterated Mexico’s support for the work of the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism and the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, calling for collaboration with these institutions to bring to justice those responsible for the crimes committed in Syria.

RAVINDRA RAGUTTAHALLI (India) said that all sides in Syria need to engage constructively and purposefully, with some sense of compromise, in order to ensure credible progress on the political track, underscoring that external influence on the sides will only prove detrimental. He expressed concern about the overall security situation in Syria, pointing to continued violence in the Idlib de-escalation area in the north-west of the country. Stressing the urgent need for genuinely serious attempts towards a comprehensive nationwide ceasefire in Syria, he said that the withdrawal of foreign forces is essential in that regard. On the resurgence of terrorist groups in Syria, he reiterated that the global fight against terrorism cannot and should not be compromised for narrow political gains and can be strengthened only by ensuring accountability. Towards this end, India has contributed $200,000 to support investigations by the Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da'esh/ISIL (UNITAD). Pointing out that the ongoing cross-border operations continue to negatively impact Syria’s sovereignty, he encouraged United Nations agencies to expend efforts to enhance cross-line operations. He also noted that the humanitarian response plan in Syria remains underfunded, particularly with regard to building resilience and access to basic services.

BARBARA WOODWARD (United Kingdom) noted that 14.6 million Syrians, 80 per cent of the population, require humanitarian assistance due to the conflict. The monthly cost of food has reached an all-time high, exacerbated by the impact of the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine and the suffering of women and girls through gender-based violence and suicide, which continues to increase. The needs among Syrians have increased since the Council closed border crossings. Without the mandate, another generation of women and girls will face increased suffering, as access to life-saving sexual and reproductive health services would be severely hit and survivors of gender-based violence will not get the support they need, she noted, calling for both the renewal and expansion of the United Nations cross-border mandate. She also highlighted her country’s early recovery support over the past six months, including agricultural, apprenticeships and small business grants. Urging all Council members to support the United Nations cross-border mandate in July, she stressed that cross-border assistance alone is not enough, underscoring full support for the United Nations-facilitated, Syrian-led process outlined in resolution 2254 (2015).

BASSAM SABBAGH (Syria) said that ending the illegal foreign presence of the United States, Turkey and Israel in Syria will help eliminate the terrorist presence, end all forms of displacement, restore Syrian national economic resources and improve the humanitarian and living situation in the country. Noting that some Western countries remain deaf to the disastrous impacts of unilateral coercive measures imposed on the Syrian people by the United States and the European Union, he said that such “measures of economic terrorism” have led to a decline in economic and development indicators, a rise in inflation and a significant worsening of Syrians’ standard of living. Further, these measures also impede the work of governmental and non-governmental humanitarian organizations and have led to an increase in the costs of supplying required aid. Any talk of exemptions are just baseless allegations promoted by the United States and the European Union to cover up their violations of human rights, international law and the Charter of the United Nations, he stressed.

He went on to say that Western countries continue to obstruct the implementation of resolution 2585 (2021) by cutting the funding of early-recovery projects or by linking their implementation to politicized conditions. The United States and its Western allies — including its Turkish ally and their tools of separatist militias and terrorist groups — continue to obstruct the delivery of cross-line aid within Syrian territory. He said that they do so to justify their continued violation of Syrian sovereignty through the so-called cross-border aid delivery mechanism that serves as a lifeline for terrorist organizations and beneficiaries of the war economy. He added that his country looks forward to the next round of the Constitutional Committee but rejects any external interference in its work or the imposition of predetermined results or artificial timetables on the same.

FERIDUN HADI SINIRLIOĞLU (Turkey), citing missing persons and forced disappearances, said the suffering of the Syrian people and their stories cannot be sidelined. The only sustainable solution is to implement resolution 2254 (2015). The Constitutional Committee must start producing a tangible outcome. But due to the uncompromising attitude of the Syrian regime, the seventh round of the Committee meeting did not produce any concrete results. Stressing the need to uphold a ceasefire in Idlib, he condemned the Syrian regime for continuing to attack civilians and violate the ceasefire agreement. Accusing PKK/YPG [Kurdish Workers’ Party/Democratic Union Party] of committing aggression in northern Syria, he said these acts will not be tolerated and no safe haven will be permitted along the Syrian border with Turkey. As for the humanitarian aid, cross-line deliveries cannot replace cross-border operations. On the allegations against his country made by his Syrian counterpart, he said he does not consider the Syrian speaker as a legitimate representative.

MAJID TAKHT RAVANCHI (Iran) reiterated his country’s call for ending the plunder of Syria’s natural resources, particularly oil and agricultural products, by foreign forces. This criminal act not only violates Syrian territorial sovereignty, relevant Security Council resolutions and the United Nations Charter, but also has a negative impact on efforts and measures aimed at restoring the Syrian economy. After more than a decade of conflict in Syria, it has become evident that only one solution exists: a Syrian-led, Syrian-owned political process facilitated by the United Nations. Iran supports the continuation of inter-Syrian talks in Geneva, he said, welcoming the convening of the Constitutional Committee’s seventh session. Strongly condemning the Israeli regime’s repeated violations of Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, he called on the Council to hold Israel accountable for such acts of aggression. The war against terrorism must not be used to undermine Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, he said, stressing that the illegal presence of foreign forces in parts of Syria must end immediately.

For information media. Not an official record.