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General Assembly Adopts Five Humanitarian Aid Resolutions, as Delegates Debate Best Strategies for Responding to COVID-19, Conflict, Climate Change Crises

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GA/12395

GENERAL ASSEMBLYPLENARY
SEVENTY-SIXTH SESSION, 50TH & 51ST MEETINGS (AM & PM)

The General Assembly adopted five resolutions concerning humanitarian assistance today, as delegates wrestled with how relief efforts should respond to the compounding crises of COVID‑19, conflict and climate change, as they looked towards the challenges facing the world in 2022.

Abdulla Shahid (Maldives), President of the General Assembly, in opening remarks, said that the United Nations and its partners will target assistance for the 183 million people most in need in 2022 at a cost of $41 billion — both figures representing the highest ever in their respective categories. The international community has a moral obligation to protect the most vulnerable who, already burdened with debt and structural deficiencies, now must face yet another crisis in the form of COVID‑19.

“I urge the international community to support this appeal,” he entreated, stressing that vaccine equity must be prioritized. The pandemic has unduly impacted women and girls, who suffer a “shadow pandemic” of domestic violence and disproportionate impact. The climate crisis further complicates humanitarian responses, and even immediate action must still overcome “decades of impacts due to our delays”. Against that backdrop, he underscored the need to link humanitarian and relief agencies with efforts that support adaptation and preparedness for natural disaster.

The Assembly then proceeded to debate on, and adopt without a vote, five draft resolutions.

Adopting the resolution titled “Strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations” (document A/76/L.23), the Assembly requested the Emergency Relief Coordinator to continue strengthening the coordination and accountability of humanitarian assistance and leadership within the United Nations humanitarian-response system. Among other measures, the Assembly urged Member States to continue prioritizing efforts to prevent, respond to, investigate and prosecute acts of sexual and gender-based violence in humanitarian emergencies. The Assembly also called for the strengthening of national and multilateral approaches and international cooperation — such as the Access to COVID‑19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) and its COVAX facility — to enable the fair, equitable and timely access to COVID‑19 vaccines, testing and treatment. Further, the Assembly called on Member States, parties to armed conflict, the United Nations and other relevant actors to urgently increase measures to prevent famine and address acute food insecurity, while also condemning the use of starvation of civilians as a method of warfare.

Through the resolution titled “White Helmets Commission: participation of volunteers in the activities of the United Nations in the field of humanitarian relief, rehabilitation and technical cooperation for development” (document A/76/L.24), the Assembly invited the Secretary-General to continue considering the use of the While Helmets initiative as a resource suitable for preventing and mitigating the effects of disasters and other humanitarian crises. It also invited Member States to consider means of supporting collaboration of the White Helmets with their programme activities and to consider making financial resources available to their special voluntary funds.

By the terms of the resolution “Assistance to the Palestinian people” (document A/76/L.25), the Assembly urged Member States, international financial institutions of the United Nations system and other relevant organizations to extend, as rapidly and as generously as possible, economic and social assistance to the Palestinian people. The Assembly also called on the international community to provide urgently needed assistance and services to alleviate the difficult humanitarian situation faced by Palestinian women, children and their families, and urged Member States to open their markets to exports of Palestinian products on the most favourable terms. The Assembly also asked the Secretary-General to submit a report to the body at its seventy-seventh session on the text’s implementation, which assesses the assistance received by the Palestinian people, their unmet needs and specific proposals to respond to the same.

In adopting the resolution titled “Safety and security of humanitarian personnel and protection of United Nations personnel” (document A/76/L.26), the Assembly condemned the continued threats to, and deliberate targeting of, humanitarian personnel and United Nations and associated personnel, along with acts of terrorism and attacks on humanitarian convoys. Among other things, the Assembly urged all States to take the requisite measures to ensure their safety and security and to ensure respect for the inviolability of United Nations premises. The Assembly called on all States and parties in complex humanitarian emergencies to ensure the safe, unhindered access of humanitarian and medical personnel, as well as their means of transport, supplies and equipment, while also underlining the urgent need to allocate adequate, predictable resources for the safety and security of United Nations and associated personnel through regular and extrabudgetary resources.

Adopting the resolution titled “International cooperation on humanitarian assistance in the field of natural disasters, from relief to development” (document A/76/L.27), the Assembly called on States to adopt and continue to implement necessary legislative and other appropriate measures to mitigate the effects of natural disasters and integrate disaster risk reduction strategies into development planning. The Assembly also underlined the need to address the economic, social and environmental impacts of climate change and urged Member States to develop, update and strengthen early warning systems, disaster preparedness and risk reduction measures at all levels. Further, the Assembly stressed the importance of the full and equal participation of women in decision-making — and of gender mainstreaming — in developing and implementing disaster risk reduction, preparedness, early action, rapid response and recovery strategies. Among other provisions, the text additionally urged Member States, the United Nations and humanitarian and development organizations to prioritize risk management and shift towards an anticipatory approach to humanitarian crises to prevent and reduce human suffering and economic losses.

In the preceding debate, delegates diverged on the responsibility for providing humanitarian aid, the form that assistance should take and its place within broader strategies for development and resilience.

The representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, pointed out that 2021 has seen the consequences of COVID‑19, once again, exacerbate significant humanitarian need, which is already amplified by conflict, climate change and food insecurity. Against that backdrop, he said that the bloc and its Member States — collectively the world’s largest humanitarian donor — is ready to shoulder its share of the responsibility.

Canada’s representative similarly observed that the effects of climate change are compounding food insecurity. Nevertheless, the COVID‑19 pandemic has demonstrated the value of scaled-up, anticipatory approaches through flexible, coordinated and predictable financing for emergency preparedness. He said that Canada, for its part, has provided over $1.1 billion for 2021-22 in flexible, quality humanitarian funding.

The representative of Venezuela, however, stressed that those responsible for climate change lecture the world on morality while making only meagre contributions to crises, considering their resources. Also spotlighting the adverse impact of sanctions on the human rights of millions, he underscored that “humanitarian exceptions” thereto are ineffective and unproductive as they prevent aid from reaching people most in need. He therefore called for the establishment of an alternative system for global financing to create an international area free of coercive measures.

The representative of the Russian Federation concurred, stating that unlawful unilateral sanctions harm countries’ socioeconomic capacity and prevent humanitarian workers from providing vital assistance to those in need. He urged States to move away from this practice and cease politicizing humanitarian assistance by making it conditional.

The representative of the United Arab Emirates highlighted his country’s approach to providing relief without any consideration of the religion, race or geographical location of recipients. Humanitarian relief is “a strategic investment in the development of people”, he said, also noting that aid is a tool in favour of stability and security around the world.

Haiti’s representative offered a different view, stating that the traditional approach to humanitarian aid weakens recipient countries by replacing their long-term, nationally led development, keeping them in a state of recurrent crisis. “Far from relieving suffering, humanitarian assistance has turned into a business for numerous international NGOs,” he said, stressing the need for humanitarian assistance to be part of a broader development strategy.

The representative of Somalia echoed that sentiment, stating that, to effectively manage recurring humanitarian emergencies, the General Assembly must continue to support the development of sustainable institutions. He also detailed tangible humanitarian need in his country, where a devastating drought has affected more than 44 million people and will render 1.2 million children under the age of five acutely malnourished by the end of 2021.

Myanmar’s representative also provided a window into a distinct humanitarian crisis, pointing out that the military in his country has limited access to vulnerable people who require urgent humanitarian assistance and protection and has weaponized bureaucratic procedures to control the movement of humanitarian actors. The people of Myanmar are still counting on the United Nations at this profoundly difficult time, he stressed, appealing for an urgent, unified international and regional response.

Also speaking today were representatives of Sweden (also for India), Argentina, Slovenia (for the European Union), Guinea (for the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), Brunei Darussalam (for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Qatar, Bangladesh, Iran, the Maldives, Malaysia, Romania, Iceland, Morocco, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, Denmark, China, Norway, the Netherlands, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, the United States, Mexico, New Zealand, Australia, Turkey, Israel, Costa Rica, Bahrain (for the Gulf Cooperation Council), Egypt, the Philippines and Hungary.

Observers for the State of Palestine, International Committee of the Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies also spoke.

Representatives of the Russian Federation, Iran, Syria and Turkey spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 16 December, to fill vacancies in its subsidiary bodies and take action on a draft resolution under its agenda item on integrated and coordinated implementation of and follow-up to the outcomes of the major United Nations conferences and summits in the economic, social and related fields.

Opening Remarks

ABDULLA SHAHID (Maldives), President of the General Assembly, recalled that the 2022 Global Humanitarian Overview noted nearly 300 million people in 63 countries require humanitarian assistance. The United Nations and partners will target assistance for the 183 million people most in need, the highest number ever, at a cost of $41 billion, the highest appeal ever. “I urge the international community to support this appeal. We have a moral obligation to protect and provide for those most vulnerable,” he said. “Let us live up to these ideals.” It is widely known that those furthest behind suffered disproportionately during the pandemic, he said. Those already burdened with debt and structural deficiencies now have to face yet another crisis. “If we are talking about coordination, here, in the recovery from the pandemic, is our first port of entry to help millions of people,” he said. In that context, vaccine equity must be prioritized above all else or the world risks going back to square one and enduring yet more lockdowns, he stressed.

Like many other challenges, the pandemic has unduly impacted women and girls, as evidenced by the “shadow pandemic” of domestic violence, and the fact that women and girls have been disproportionately impacted by socioeconomic impacts, such as the loss of jobs and livelihoods, or of access to education. As for the larger climate crisis, the humanitarian community is on the front lines of climate impacts, responding to disasters. “Even if the world were to act now to address climate change, we can still anticipate decades of impacts due to our delays,” he warned. Therefore, it is imperative that the humanitarian and relief agencies are closely linked to efforts to support adaptation and to help prevent and prepare for natural hazards, he said.

Introduction of Draft Resolutions

ANNA KARIN ENESTRÖM (Sweden) introducing the draft resolution titled, “Strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations” (document A/76/L.23), said her country has facilitated the negotiations of the text since the landmark resolution 46/182, which created the foundations of today’s United Nations humanitarian system, was adopted in 1991. The resolutions before the Assembly equip the humanitarian community with the framework it needs to provide such assistance. Despite continued negotiations in a virtual format in 2021 due to the pandemic, she said the resolution was updated with important new elements related to, inter alia, the pandemic, mental health and psychosocial support, the importance of continuing education in humanitarian crises, food insecurity and the integration of protection and health risks. Noting that 113 humanitarian workers have lost their lives on duty in 2021, she called on Member States to translate the words of the resolution into concrete action to save lives, alleviate suffering and maintain human dignity across the globe.

Speaking in her national capacity and also on behalf of India, she called on the global community to address the root causes of humanitarian needs and to respond to the acute challenges. Noting the persistent shortfall in financing of humanitarian appeals remains a challenge, she called upon Member States to consider increasing their contribution to the United Nations humanitarian assistance system, including country‑based pooled funds, and the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), to which India and Sweden are long‑standing donors.

India, a net provider of health security, has successfully shouldered its responsibility as the ‘pharmacy of the world’, sending consignments of medicines and medical supplies to over 150 partner countries, she said. During the 2019 Climate Action Summit, India launched a Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure in partnership with several other countries. It also introduced a new initiative for technical assistance and capacity‑building in island States to mobilize technology, finance, and necessary information. Underscoring that Sweden, in the face of the unprecedented increase in humanitarian needs, remains one of the largest donors to the United Nations humanitarian system, she said that in 2021 it is contributing $874 million. It will continue to provide major United Nations with multi‑year core funding, she said, encouraging other Member States to do the same. Sweden hosted the launch of the Global Humanitarian Overview earlier in December and for the first time.

Reiterating their countries’ commitment to working with all Member States for a robust response to humanitarian challenges, she called on delegations to adopt the draft humanitarian resolutions by consensus.

The representative of Argentina, introducing the draft resolution titled “White Helmets Commission: participation of volunteers in the activities of the United Nations in the field of humanitarian relief, rehabilitation and technical cooperation for development” (document A/76/L.24), said that since the creation of the White Helmets Commission in 1994, 340 humanitarian assistance missions have been carried out in 75 countries on all continents, in response to requests from States in need or to international humanitarian appeals.

These missions are always guided by the principles of independence, neutrality, humanitarianism and impartiality, she said. Over the past 27 years, Argentina has engaged in humanitarian work as part of a State policy based on firm respect for humanitarian principles, international humanitarian law and the sovereignty of States. Since 2019, the White Helmets have provided humanitarian assistance through more than 20 missions to 24 countries, sending volunteers and/or humanitarian supplies to assist during humanitarian crises, including those caused by hurricanes Eta and Iota and the COVID‑19 pandemic. In addition, as part of the multilateral humanitarian commitment, the White Helmets have provided COVID‑19 vaccines and related technical assistance. She stressed the importance of the General Assembly’s renewal of support to the White Helmets Commission.

The representative of Slovenia, speaking on behalf of the European Union, introduced a draft resolution titled “Safety and security of humanitarian personnel and protection of United Nations personnel” (document A/76/L.26) and a second resolution titled "Assistance to the Palestinian people” (document A/76/L.25). As penholders of the safety and security resolution since 1998, the European Union take this obligation very seriously. Alongside other key partners, the bloc organized a discussion series called “Ensuring the protection, safety and security of humanitarian workers and medical personnel in armed conflicts.” The Outcome Document was shared with all United Nations Member States on 29 October 2021, he said, expressing hope that all States will consider acting on the points suggested to support humanitarian and medical workers.

Highlighting three elements of this year’s resolution, he said that to end attacks, the international community must keep improving the systematic monitoring, reporting and investigations of attacks against humanitarian and medical personnel now. Secondly, it is critically important to keep strengthening existing monitoring systems for the safety and security of humanitarian and medical personnel, including improving the quality and effective use of the United Nations incident data system. Thirdly, United Nations and humanitarian organizations, including local humanitarian actors, should have timely access to available information to strengthen their risk assessment and effective security risk management. The text also shares a collective commitment to the zero‑tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse. This is an important element of achieving full, gender‑sensitive protection for United Nations personnel.

Turning to the second resolution on assistance to the Palestinian people, he said that to ensure lasting results, a fundamental change in Gaza is crucial. He called on all parties to urgently act, in line with Council resolution 2334 (2016], to create a fundamental change in the humanitarian, political, security and economic situation in Gaza. That would include an end to the closure policy, full opening of crossing points and humanitarian access, while addressing Israel's legitimate security concerns.

The representative of Guinea, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, introduced the draft resolution titled “International cooperation on humanitarian assistance in the field of natural disasters, from relief to development” (document A/76/L.27). The text continues to recognize the clear relationship between emergency response, rehabilitation and development, he said, adding that it also expresses gravest concern about COVID‑19’s humanitarian impacts on the people and communities affected by natural disasters. Also noting the emphasis on strengthening international and regional collaboration, he pointed out that for the first time, the draft urges Member States, international financial institutions and humanitarian and development organizations to address food insecurity and malnutrition and their underlying causes related to natural disasters and climate change. In this regard, it emphasizes developing and strengthening resilient and sustainable food systems, shock-responsive social protection systems and improving the availability and use of data on food security and nutrition, he said.

Statements

SILVIO GONZATO, representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, noted that 274 million people will need humanitarian assistance and protection in 2022. In 2021, the consequences of COVID‑19 have, once again, exacerbated significant humanitarian need, which has been amplified by conflict, climate change and food insecurity. Stressing that violations of international humanitarian law continue even as the world stops during a global pandemic, he said that such violations — coupled with disrespect for humanitarian principles — is restricting the humanitarian operating environment. Against that backdrop, he called on States that have not yet done so to ratify and implement important international‑humanitarian-law instruments such as the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Noting that humanitarian assistance and aid workers are increasingly under attack, he underscored that “saving lives should not cost lives”, while also emphasizing the need to protect civilians affected by conflict and to avoid any potential negative impact of sanctions and counter‑terrorism measures on exclusively humanitarian activities.

Recalling the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, he said that anticipatory action saves lives and mitigates humanitarian need. Such action must be strengthened and mainstreamed throughout the entire humanitarian system. He also called on humanitarian actors to progressively adapt their response strategies to the realities of climate change and stated that, for its part, the European Union is determined to reduce the environmental footprint of its humanitarian operations. On the increasing number of people forcibly displaced — which climate change will compound — he supported the Platform on Disaster Displacement, while also spotlighting the need for a new approach and commitment by Member States and the United Nations system to address internal displacement more effectively. He added that supporting the humanitarian community’s work through today’s resolutions is key, and that the bloc and its member States — collectively the world’s largest humanitarian donor — is ready to shoulder its share of responsibility.

NOOR QAMAR SULAIMAN (Brunei Darussalam), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said pressure on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief in ASEAN has intensified, as climate change effects like heat waves, droughts and floods become more pronounced. In 2020, the region was hit by 405 disaster events affecting 19.3 million people, displacing 2.4 million and resulting in damages worth $227.4 million, making a disaster-resilient and adaptive ASEAN a top priority. Since the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response came into force in 2009, ASEAN has progressed from being a beneficiary of international assistance to a partner in global humanitarian relief operations.

At the core of the region’s efforts is the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management, she said, which was established to ease coordination of disaster management and emergency response amongst Member States. In August, the Centre provided medical supplies and aid to Myanmar, despite the challenges of the COVID‑19 pandemic. Beyond ASEAN, the Centre has established cooperation with ASEAN Dialogue, Developmental and Sectoral Partners, including Australia, China, the European Union, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland and the United States. The Centre has also stepped up its partnership with the private sector and civil society organizations, such as the Deutsche Post DHL Group, Temasek Foundation and the Red Cross, as well as the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction—Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.

The representative of Qatar, noting the impact of the climate crisis, the pandemic and other humanitarian emergencies around the world, highlighted his country’s leadership in humanitarian aid and development, while stressing respect for the principles of shared responsibility and multilateral action. Qatar has provided vital support to several States as well as organizations to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, he said, noting that such aid totals more than $140 million. Further, the Qatar Fund For Development signed an agreement with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to provide a contribution of approximately $10 million to support Gavi’s efforts to ensure balanced and lasting access to vaccines for low‑income countries. The country has also partnered with the World Health Organization (WHO) and will be contributing $18 million to support the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

RABAB FATIMA (Bangladesh) said that her country is hosting over 1.1 million forcibly displaced Rohingyas who fled atrocities in Myanmar. The deteriorating situation in Myanmar urgently needs international attention to create the conditions for the safe, sustainable return of the displaced Rohingyas to their homeland. The international community must also undertake development activities with a focus on building resilience and ultimately reducing dependency on humanitarian aid, she said, calling for better cooperation between humanitarian and development actors to enable a smooth transition from relief dependency to sustained development. There must be a balance in funding between humanitarian and development work without compromising their respective priorities. Further strengthening gender-responsive policy development for disaster risk reduction and mitigation is also key. Bangladesh is concerned about the denial of humanitarian access in many conflict situations, and the indiscriminate armed attacks against humanitarian medical and peacekeeping personnel and civilian infrastructure essential to aid operations. The four draft resolutions before the Assembly are important instruments to strengthen the United Nations humanitarian operations.

ZAHRA ERSHADI (Iran), aligning herself with the Group of 77, stressed that humanitarian crises or emergencies, especially those created under a specific and hidden political agenda, must not lead to foreign intervention under the pretext of responsibility to protect. Addressing the root causes of humanitarian crises and emergencies as well as greater investment in prevention are fundamental solutions for these events, which include natural hazards, foreign military interventions and the imposition of inhumane unilateral coercive measures. Iran considers the use of illegal unilateral coercive measures a prime obstacle hindering international efforts to provide humanitarian assistance, she added, as well as a main source of crises. Moreover, legitimate concerns over the deviation of assistance and non‑humanitarian activities under the guise of providing humanitarian aid must be immediately and thoroughly investigated, she said.

EMAN HUSSAIN (Maldives) highlighted the recent increase in outbreaks of a variety of infectious diseases, including cholera, dengue, measles and polio in countries facing humanitarian challenges. These outbreaks have been compounded by the COVID‑19 pandemic, which interrupted many programmes to combat them. The pandemic has also created further humanitarian needs and exposed existing inequalities in the disabled, elderly, internally displaced, refugees and migrants, who are facing the most severe impacts. The international community must ensure equitable access to COVID vaccines and take extraordinary measures to provide doses to those in humanitarian situations. Adding that climate change impacts continue to be a key concern for the Maldives and other small island developing States, she said they drive humanitarian needs through increasingly frequent and severe disasters and slow onset events. Climate change-related impacts like heat waves, flooding, droughts, tropical cyclones and sea level rise are expected to push an estimated 100 million people into poverty by 2030, she reported.

AIDA SAFURA NIZA OTHMAN (Malaysia), associating herself with ASEAN, said her country will continue to support the World Food Programme’s (WFP) first relief base in Asia. The depot, which was setup in 2012 in Subang, has played a crucial role in large-scale operations to support COVID‑19 responses in the region, including the shipment of mobile storage units, generator sets, water tanks, lighting equipment, furniture and prefab modules to support COVID‑19 operations and humanitarian relief in Cox’s Bazaar. Moreover, Malaysia will continue to extend assistance through the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), as well as bilaterally. This year, her country provided financial contribution to OCHA to support humanitarian relief in Afghanistan, Iraq and Yemen. It also agreed to a predictable long‑term contribution of $1 million over a period of five years to UNRWA, in support of the Agency’s relief efforts to the Palestinian people. At the regional level, she said Malaysia will continue to work closely with the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management in providing collective disaster response by ASEAN nations in Southeast Asia.

The representative of Venezuela observed that the threat from climate change has intensified while armed conflict continues to affect the most vulnerable, creating migratory crises and widespread hunger. Yet, those responsible lecture the world on morality and contribute meagrely to crises, considering their resources. Notions such as “humanitarian intervention” and “right to protect” only exacerbate problems and present some powerful States with an opportunity to pillage goods and natural resources. The illegal application of unilateral measures violates international law and has had an adverse impact on the human rights of millions of Venezuelans who have been deprived of access to food and vaccines, even during the pandemic. Underscoring the extraterritorial impact of sanctions, he said “humanitarian exceptions” are ineffective and unproductive as they prevent aid from reaching people most in need. In fact, sanctions generate more death and consequences than a conventional war, he stressed. As such, he called for the establishment of an alternative system for global financing that can stand up to blackmail pressure of Western powers. There must be a shift towards creating an international area free of coercive measures with the establishment of “green corridors”.

The representative of Canada noted that the recent Global Humanitarian Overview estimated that $41 billion is required to provide lifesaving assistance to 183 million people. Education has had the largest disruption in history with a disproportionate impact on girls. The effects of climate change, including because of desertification, drought, and flooding are compounding food insecurity. The pandemic has demonstrated the value of scaled‑up anticipatory approaches through flexible, coordinated and predictable financing for early warning and action systems, forecasting and emergency preparedness. Moreover, gender‑responsive and inclusive humanitarian approaches and predictable, flexible financing, in line with the Grand Bargain and Good Humanitarian Donor principles, remain critical. For its part, Canada has provided over $1.1 billion for 2021-22 in flexible, quality humanitarian funding, including support for the humanitarian responses in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, the Sahel region, Yemen, and Syria. Underscoring the importance of comprehensive responses, he said “meaningful cooperation within the humanitarian‑development and peace nexus is not just a soundbite, it is a necessity if we want to reverse the trend of continuously growing humanitarian needs.”

The representative of the Russian Federation, noting that food security of any country is based on socioeconomic and technological development, called for the rejection of alarmist statements and, instead, a focus on promoting the comprehensive development of countries at risk and on increasing the effectiveness of already available early warning systems. Given the already significant burden on the humanitarian response system, he said unlawful unilateral sanctions harm the socioeconomic capacity of countries and also prevent humanitarian workers from providing vital assistance to those in need. Such restrictions do not achieve their intended aims, he pointed out, urging States to move away from the practice of abusive sanctions and stop politicizing humanitarian assistance by making it conditional. He said his country is actively engaged in the international humanitarian response, makes regular donor contributions annually in the amount of $90 million and also sends humanitarian goods and Russian rescue workers to areas most in need.

The representative of Romania, aligning himself with the European Union, said that in 2020 and 2021 his country allocated over 10 per cent of its development and humanitarian‑assistance budget to humanitarian aid. The Government has introduced a flexible financial‑allocation mechanism to enable faster humanitarian response to emergencies, including those in Haiti, Afghanistan and Ukraine. Pointing to the worrying surge in serious attacks on humanitarian and medical personnel over the last decade, he urged increased investment in risk assessment, protection strategies and humanitarian diplomacy aimed at gaining the acceptance of local communities. Measures to respect international humanitarian law at the international level should be paired with those designed to ensure respect domestically. For its part, Romania has joined the growing community of States that have elaborated national voluntary reports on the implementation of international humanitarian law. He added that this self‑assessment is a valuable exercise for strengthening compliance in this area.

JÖRUNDUR VALTÝSSON (Iceland), noting that humanitarian needs continue to rise in magnitude and complexity, stressed that a coordinated humanitarian response is needed, now more than ever. The recently launched Global Humanitarian Overview for 2022 paints a bleak picture, with an estimated 274 million people requiring humanitarian assistance and protection. On Wednesday, 39 donors pledged a total of $467 million to the Central Emergency Response Fund, he said, the highest amount committed to that fund in one event. However, more is needed with the ever-growing gap between needs and resources, he emphasized, encouraging all actors to reduce humanitarian needs through enhanced anticipatory action. Adding that Iceland emphasizes human rights and gender equality, he also called for decisive action to combat sexual and gender-based violence in humanitarian emergencies.

The representative of Morocco said that his country has always contributed to the assistance efforts to aid populations affected by emergency humanitarian situations, whether due to political unrest or natural disasters. The Royal Armed Forces have deployed 19 hospitals and provided medical services to local populations and refugees in 14 countries on four continents. Morocco's humanitarian action is not limited to emergency aid; it also includes sustainable development projects and South‑South cooperation. In addition, Morocco continues to strengthen its contribution to humanitarian crisis mitigation through its effective contribution to peacekeeping operations. His country has pledged a contribution of $100,000 for 2022 to support the CERF. He stressed the importance of registering refugees and having a census of populations in refugee camps to guarantee their protection against any political instrumentalization and diversion of aid. Coordination between humanitarian actors must be strengthened to put an end to violations and serious crimes committed against children, in particular their military recruitment, he stated.

The representative of Switzerland said the pandemic has changed the ability of humanitarian workers to help people in need, and more crises are emerging that place additional pressure on them, making their work more complex. The international community needs to provide a unified response to help these workers meet these new challenges. She noted the presence of the new COVID‑19 variant and that, in five of the world’s poorest countries, only 2 per cent of their populations have been vaccinated. More solidarity in the delivery of vaccines is needed. She commended the United Nations system for mobilizing to deal with the global health crisis and commended the courage of its workers. Many of these workers, particularly local workers, are targets of attack. Humanitarian access to distressed populations must be allowed and neutrality is important, she said, stressing that those who violate humanitarian law should be prosecuted. To enable the United Nations system to provide an effective, coordinated and rapid response, the framework being discussed today is essential. Switzerland is committed to a dialogue to improve the coordination of the delivery of humanitarian assistance, she said, calling for improved partnerships.

The representative of Saudi Arabia said that, against the backdrop of COVID-19’s economic, health, education and societal challenges, his country played a key role in 2020 as the head of the Group of 20 (G20) and supported global efforts to combat the pandemic through an allocation of over $500 million. He spotlighted Saudi Arabia’s continuing commitment to provide humanitarian and development assistance throughout the world, noting that his country is one of the three primary donors of such aid. Pointing out that women and children are among the most vulnerable affected by disaster, he detailed his country’s assistance programs to support and protect such individuals in countries such as Yemen and Somalia. Further, the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center facilitates 170 volunteer programs involving Saudi experts that have benefited over 300,000 people around the world. Turning to climate change, he noted the phenomenon’s direct impact on food systems, conflict and other issues, highlighting the priority that the Saudi Government accords to food security in its humanitarian responses.

The representative of Denmark, associating himself with the European Union, said that he is speaking in the capacity as the Global Lead for the Call to Action on Protection from Gender-Based Violence in Humanitarian Crises in 2021-2022. That initiative is aimed at transforming the way gender-based violence is addressed in humanitarian crises. Such violence is a pervasive and life-threatening health, human rights and protection issue and a barrier to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In that context, there is a need to work more with local women and girls in humanitarian planning and decision-making, he stressed, pointing out that efforts only have value if they are relevant and useful at the local and national level. Indeed, local actors and women-led organizations are uniquely positioned to address the impact of crises as they are aware of the context. Unfortunately, action to end gender-based violence is chronically underfunded, having only reached above 20 per cent of the global requirements, severely limiting capacity. The international community has a collective responsibility to increase funds for gender-based violence and direct more flexible financing to local actors, he said.

The representative of the United Arab Emirates, noting his country’s close partnerships with various United Nations bodies and regional and international institutions working in humanitarian aid and disaster relief, highlighted the Emirates’ approach to providing relief without any consideration of the religion, race or geographical location of those receiving it. Stressing respect for humanitarian principles and the dignity of vulnerable people around the world, he said that for the Emirates, “beyond the collective responsibility to provide relief, it is a strategic investment in the development of people.” Humanitarian aid is a tool in favour of stability and security around the world, he said, calling on the United Nations to speed up delivery of aid in areas in which disasters are predicted, thereby benefiting from the predictability of certain climate disasters and their consequences.

The representative of Haiti observed that the traditional approach to humanitarian aid is problematic because it weakens the recipient State by replacing its national sustainable socioeconomic process. Humanitarian response is often led by international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that systematically bypass the recipient State and have no awareness of national realities. Instead, the beneficiary State is excluded from the assistance coordination process with international bodies determining their priorities based on their own agendas. “Far from relieving suffering, humanitarian assistance has turned into a business for numerous international NGOs,” he said. To be effective, assistance must be coordinated by the national institutions of recipient States, he underscored. Beyond the problem of coordination, assistance is often presented as a replacement for long-term nationally led development that keeps recipient countries in a state of recurrent crisis. As such, it is necessary to receive humanitarian assistance as part of a broader development strategy, with an approach that reduces the vulnerability and increases the resiliency of the host country.

The representative of China, pointing to the fragile global economic recovery, greater intensity of extreme weather events, food insecurity in some countries, and unilateral economic measures, said the international community should work in solidarity and collaboration, assisting countries in humanitarian crises and addressing their root causes. Developed countries should honour their commitments to developing countries in the areas of vaccine delivery, climate response, and financial and technical assistance for capacity‑building in disaster risk mitigation, among others. China supports OCHA in its role of organizing and coordinating relief efforts. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, China has actively engaged in the international response to the pandemic, shipping more than 1.58 billion doses of the vaccine to more than 120 countries and international organizations. At the Assembly’s current session, he said his country’s President proposed a people‑centred global development and welcomed all countries to join and provide support to countries in need.

The representative of Norway said that his country remains concerned about the plight of refugees and internally displaced persons. The number of people forcibly displaced is a staggering 84 million. The impact of COVID‑19 on health and economy continues to fuel conflicts, resulting in an increase in sexual and gender-based violence, which is deeply worrying and unacceptable. More funding for protection programmes, including for sexual and reproductive health services, is needed. He encouraged more Member States and organizations to join the Call to Action on Protection from Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies. It is important to put children at the centre of humanitarian response, and to ensure access to education — for boys and girls — also during crises, he said. The international community must be better in preventing humanitarian crises through preventive diplomacy, anticipatory action, disaster risk reduction and climate adaptation. It must do more to operationalize the humanitarian-development-peace nexus to meet short-term needs and provide long-term solutions. Building resilience through livelihoods and early recovery is key to reducing fragility and vulnerability. The international community must also work more cost-efficiently through partnerships with local partners and cash-based assistance.

The representative of the Netherlands, aligning himself with the European Union, stressed the importance of a victim‑centred approach on sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment. Commending the Secretary General’s leadership to address the issue and the relevant progress made, he pointed out that inter‑agency collaboration in securing safe and accessible complaint mechanisms, timely and transparent investigations and especially redress for victims and survivors is not on par with the Organization’s principles and values. The widely reported “sex for jobs” scandal during the Ebola response is sad proof, he observed. Also welcoming the recognition in the humanitarian omnibus resolution of the importance of mental health and psychosocial support as cross‑sectoral theme in humanitarian efforts, she stressed that mental effects of living in a crisis need to be recognized and addressed for individuals, families and communities to recover and to get back on track. Mental health and psychosocial support should not be an afterthought, but included in all phases of emergency response, he noted.

The representative of Ukraine drew attention to the humanitarian crisis in the country’s temporarily occupied territories, caused by the Russian Federation’s ongoing armed aggression. Due to the latter country’s checkpoint blocking, which is criminally justified as preventing the spread of COVID‑19, Ukrainian citizens living in the occupied territories are unable to access basic needs and services, including social welfare and pension benefits; educational, medical, administrative and banking services; and WHO-approved COVID‑19 vaccines. Ukraine calls on the United Nations and international humanitarian organizations to strengthen monitoring of medical services provided to people living in the occupied territories and report human rights violations. The country’s authorities provide compensation for housing destroyed in the armed aggression. They also have modernized checkpoints with unified standards, provide temporary housing for internally displaced persons and arrange for preferential mortgage loans. However, Ukraine needs to expand cooperation with the United Nations and other international organizations to enhance its humanitarian response in the temporarily occupied territories and implement development projects in those areas.

The representative of the United Kingdom, noting that conflict, climate change and COVID‑19 continue to dominate humanitarian crises, said the international community is clearly heading in the wrong direction. It must build new partnerships and develop tools to better address and anticipate humanitarian crises. Going into 2022, the United Kingdom plans to prioritize delivery of humanitarian assistance to people in the greatest need, ensuring responses better reflect the needs of affected populations. Further, it will champion humanitarian principles, calling out belligerents preventing populations from accessing assistance they need. The United Kingdom will also strive to prevent today’s problems from turning into tomorrow’s crises by increasing investments in monitoring and early warning systems. As the international community continues to face the combined effects of conflict, climate change and COVID‑19, it must use a holistic multilateral response, harnessing big data and artificial intelligence and aiming climate finance at fragile contexts, he said.

The representative of the United States reported that her country provided $13 billion in humanitarian aid this year and will contribute to the Organization’s Central Emergency Response Fund in 2022. Noting that the United States has done its part in countering the pandemic, she called on all Member States to do the same. Samantha Power, the administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, has said that while more humanitarian funding is needed, a new approach is also required. Diplomacy must be used to resolve conflicts, which create a significant amount of humanitarian needs. Diplomatic negotiations are needed at the United Nations and bilaterally. She also highlighted the limited access to many people in need, especially in areas of Ethiopia, Yemen and Syria. The international community must support the humanitarian and medical workers with all available tools possible. Underscoring that all funding cannot be done by humanitarian organizations, she said that the United States will continue to work on management reforms across the United Nations system and will seek to improve humanitarian outcomes with greater coordination within the system.

The representative of Mexico, regarding the draft resolution on strengthening the coordination of United Nations emergency humanitarian assistance, commended the General Assembly for taking a stand on both the humanitarian effects of the COVID‑19 pandemic and the strengthening of the gender perspective. However, noting her regret about the lack of unanimity on the inclusion of the humanitarian impact of armed conflict on boys and girls, she said that such obstructionism does not take into account evidence‑based data. All armed conflicts bring with them enormous humanitarian impact on civilians, she stressed, adding that the rights of the child are enshrined in human rights and international law. Stressing the responsibility of States in safeguarding those rights, she said that the well‑being of more than 19,000 boys and girls who live in conditions of armed conflict depend on this.

JUSTIN PETER FEPULEAI (New Zealand), stressing that climate change continues to be a humanitarian issue, said that his country, as an island nation in the Pacific, is acutely aware of the threat of the phenomenon. The region is experiencing impacts from rising seas to greater intensity and frequency of extreme weather events, such as cyclones, flooding and drought. The international community must not only be measured by how it responds to the impacts of climate change, but by how sincerely it tackles the root causes. For that reason, he said New Zealand champions the Paris Agreement’s objective for the world to become carbon neutral in the second half of the century. Turning to the situation of women and girls, he stressed that their sexual and reproductive rights in humanitarian settings must be upheld in crises, adding that sexual and reproductive health care must be available from the onset of a crisis. He also underscored the need to include people with disabilities in humanitarian decision-making processes, pointing to the role of women and youth with disabilities and the need to strengthen opportunities for them to exercise leadership and decision-making capabilities.

The representative of Australia said that the recently launched Global Humanitarian Overview for 2022 paints a bleak picture, with an estimated 274 million people requiring humanitarian assistance and protection in a single year. Highlighting her country’s participation in the Central Emergency Response Fund pledging event, she reported that 39 donors pledged a total of $467 million, the highest amount committed to the fund in a pledging event. In that regard, she said she was pleased to note a more stringent prioritization of needs in the Global Humanitarian Overview with the aim of assisting the most vulnerable. She also encouraged all actors to reduce humanitarian needs through enhanced anticipatory action. With half of all current crises being somewhat predictable, the human and financial cost of reactive responses is simply too high.

KYAW MOE TUN (Myanmar), drawing attention to his country’s serious humanitarian crisis, stressed “this tragedy is happening before our very eyes.” The military has been placing extreme limits on any access to vulnerable people needing urgent humanitarian assistance and protection, and there will be no safe and unimpeded humanitarian access in the country if the military continues holding power. In addition, the military is defying numerous calls by the United Nations, including the Security Council. The military has been severely scrutinizing humanitarian personnel and supplies and is using bureaucratic procedures as weapons to control space and the movement of humanitarian actors. He sincerely thanked the United Nations agencies, including the World Food Program and Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, for their best efforts in coordinating and providing humanitarian assistance and rapidly responding to the pandemic. The people of Myanmar are still counting on the United Nations at this profoundly difficult time. “To bring peace, stability and to provide humanitarian assistance to those in need is to start with the end of military rule,” he said. He appealed again for an urgent unified international and regional response to help put Myanmar back on the path to democracy.

The representative of Turkey emphasized that vulnerable groups have been heavily affected by worsening conflicts and the COVID‑19 pandemic. Meanwhile, respect for international law is declining. Against that backdrop, she stressed that the international community must take steps to ensure fair and equitable access to and distribution of COVID‑19 vaccines. She went on to express support for efforts to use new technology and data gathering methods in the humanitarian system, including accountability mechanisms to report violations. Turkey, for its part, provides strong humanitarian support to the people seeking refuge inside its borders, she went on, reporting that her country was ranked the second-largest donor country in the world in 2020. Indeed, Turkey addresses the needs of 20 per cent of the worldwide refugee population. That includes measures to protect refugees in Turkey from COVID-19, she said, noting that they have access to the same health services as Turkish citizens. In Syria, Turkey provides protection to people across the border in the northwest part of the country, she said.

The representative of Somalia said that on 23 November, his Government declared a state of emergency due to a devastating drought, which has affected more than 44 million people and displaced over 200,000, with figures rapidly increasing across the nation. The drought emergency continues to expose vulnerabilities to hazard risk and has led to the loss of human life and livestock. By the end of the year, 1.2 million children under the age of five are expected to be acutely malnourished, with over 200,000 of them severely malnourished. The National Drought Committee has been heavily engaged in strengthening coordination of a joint response to the emergency between his Government and key stakeholders, including humanitarian partners and the private sector. Despite financial constraints, he said the Somali Government has pledged $1 million and Government ministers have agreed to deliver 20 per cent of their monthly salaries until further notice. In addition, Somalia’s private sector has pledged $2 million, and communication is ongoing between traditional and non-traditional donors. With the support of Sweden and the World Bank, Somalia’s national emergency operations centre will be the national coordination hub for all emergency and disaster response. To effectively manage recurring humanitarian emergencies, the General Assembly must continue to support the development of sustainable institutions, he said.

The representative of Israel recalled his country’s delivery of humanitarian assistance to more than 140 countries over the decades, including helping to provide clean water, energy and medical supplies after a powerful earthquake struck Haiti several months ago. Also noting that its Agency for International Development Cooperation organizes courses each year for participants from developing countries, focusing on agriculture and education, disaster preparedness and fostering resilience, he stressed that his country takes to heart its responsibility and pledges to continue to bring relief to people in need around the world. Describing the remarks by the Iranian delegation as “ironic”, he called on the international community to stop the Iranian threat and humanitarian carnage left by the regime whenever it tries to spread its marginal influence from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean.

The representative of Costa Rica said that 1 million Afghan children are in danger of starvation in the coming months, adding that similar situations occur in Yemen, Ethiopia, Madagascar or Haiti. Forty-five million people are at serious risk of starvation, but hunger can be stopped, and humanity can dedicate itself to achieving that, he stressed. The resolutions considered today by the Assembly demonstrate that the international community has the diagnoses, the means and the road map. There will be no peace, nor sustainable development, so long as hunger continues to plague millions of people. He called on the international community to do the necessary work to save millions of lives.

ABDULLAH M.A. ABU SHAWESH, observer for the State of Palestine, cited the latest United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia report, which noted that that the COVID‑19 pandemic struck an already weakened Palestinian economy. Furthermore, the report indicated that customs tax and the value‑added tax collected by Israel for the Palestinian National Authority represent up to 75 per cent of the Palestinian revenues, and that the fiscal stalemate with Israel over clearance revenues weighed heavily on the Palestinian economy. In that regard, he called on the international community to compel Israel to end its repeated practice of withholding taxes and customs revenues owed to the Palestinian people. Meanwhile, United Nations agencies and programmes which continue to provide vital assistance to the Palestinian people, are helping to mitigate the serious challenges they face in the context of more than half a century of foreign occupation, he said. The situation has long been deemed unsustainable and requires not only urgent humanitarian remedies, but diplomatic, political, and legal mechanisms available for States, to compel Israel to cease its war crimes and human rights violations.

LAETITIA COUTOIS, Permanent Observer of the International Committee of the Red Cross, said that the international community must redouble efforts to implement United Nations resolutions intended to protect and support essential services, notably Security Council resolution 2286 (2016) on the protection of the medical mission, and resolution 2573 (2021) on the protection of objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population. She also called for equitable access to vaccines during the COVID‑19 pandemic, within and between countries, and encouraged States to also strengthen healthcare delivery in last mile areas. All States should continue to work collectively to facilitate rapid and unimpeded humanitarian access to populations in armed conflict. In addition, she urged States to build well‑framed humanitarian exemptions into sanctions regimes and counter-terrorism measures, in compliance with international humanitarian law. That would ensure that impartial and humanitarian action is supported and facilitated, not obstructed or criminalized, including in areas controlled by non‑State armed groups designated as terrorists or listed under sanctions regimes.

LIANA GHUKASYAN, Permanent Observer of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, noting that “there is far too much rhetoric and far too little action”, said the humanitarian crisis caused by COVID‑19 has been defined by profound and persistent inequities. Migrants, refugees and people living in countries with underresourced health systems or in fragile settings are among the least likely to receive the medical, financial and social support they need, she said, adding that many communities around the world continue to suffer from the impacts of climate change side by side with the pandemic. Of the 132 unique extreme weather events that have occurred in 2020, 92 have overlapped with the COVID‑19 pandemic, she said, pointing out that the dual crises of COVID‑19 and climate change continue to exacerbate mental health needs and strain health systems.

Stressing the need for flexible funding and sustainable investments in public, local and community-based mental health and psychosocial support, she cautioned that major crises like climate disasters and pandemics will continue to increase in frequency. Ensuring equitable access to COVID‑19 vaccines and essential health services is both a humanitarian imperative and the only way to end the pandemic. “Disease outbreaks begin and end in communities,” she stressed, adding that it is essential to involve local communities as co-developers from the start and throughout the response. The 192 Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are a part of their communities, before, during and after crises, she said, adding that they are uniquely placed to address context-specific barriers and opportunities for meeting the needs of hard-to-reach communities.

Actions on Draft Resolutions

The Assembly adopted without a vote the draft resolution “Strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations” (document A76/L.23).

The Assembly then adopted without a vote the draft resolution “White Helmets Commission: participation of volunteers in the activities of the United Nations in the field of humanitarian relief, rehabilitation and technical cooperation for development” (document A/76/L.24).

The Assembly also adopted without a vote the draft resolution “Assistance to the Palestinian people” (document A/76/L.25).

The Assembly then adopted without a vote the draft resolution “Safety and security of humanitarian personnel and protection of United Nations personnel” (document A/76/L.26).

The Assembly adopted without a vote the draft resolution “International cooperation on humanitarian assistance in the field of natural disasters, from relief to development” (document A/76/L.27).

The representative of Bahrain, speaking for the Gulf Cooperation Council in explanation of vote, said the Council was thankful for the consensus on resolution “L.23”. However, referring to the sections regarding sexual and reproductive health, particularly paragraph 63, he reaffirmed that this question must be in line with national legislation and the religious and cultural values of a country.

Speaking in explanations of position after adoption, the representative of the Russian Federation said that in 2016, the country withdrew its signature from the Rome Statute after it became clear that the International Criminal Court had not justified the hopes invested in it. It is not an authoritative and independent body of international justice. Therefore, the Russian delegation disassociates itself from the preambular paragraph 32 and operative paragraph 8 of the resolution concerning “Safety and security of humanitarian personnel and protection of United Nations personnel” and does not consider itself bound by its provisions.

The representative of Egypt, while noting the large number of humanitarian crises in some regions of the world due to armed conflict as well as natural and public health disasters, expressed reservations regarding “L.23” on “Strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance of the United Nations”. Operative paragraphs 62 and 63 of that text concern sexual and reproductive health; this must be in accordance with national legislation and the religious and cultural values of the society.

Speaking in explanation of position, the representative of the Philippines dissociated herself from preambular paragraph 32 and operative paragraph 8 of “L.26” and all other paragraphs in other resolutions making reference to the International Criminal Court. The Philippines withdrew from the Rome Statute effective 17 March 2019. The Rome Statute is anchored in the principle of complementarity, not substitution, she said, adding that her country does not accept the International Criminal Court as a substitute for national courts.

The representative of Hungary, in explanation of vote on resolution A/76/L.27, said that while her delegation had joined consensus, it remained concerned about preambular paragraph 13. It did not endorse the Global Conference on Migration. Therefore, her delegation cannot accept any reference to that reference within the text and must disassociate from that mention.

Right of Reply

The representative of the Russian Federation, in exercise of the right of reply, said the statements made by the delegate of Ukraine are false. He noted the number of violations of the ceasefire of 2020 signing have approached 20,000, with 75 per cent of the resulting civilian victims in the Luhansk and Donetsk areas. Nevertheless, the Russian Federation will continue to provide assistance to Ukraine, especially taking into consideration the size of the Russian population there. The Russian Federation’s actions do not contradict the Minsk agreement, unlike Ukraine’s actions, he stressed.

The representative of Iran, stressing that Israel continues to violate the rights of Palestinians and Arabs living under its occupation, said Palestinians have been deprived of their land, forcibly evicted and subjected to violence and intimidation. As the international community continues to address the impacts of COVID‑19, Israel is accelerating its illegal settlements to further its occupation. The blockade on the Gaza Strip continues to deepen the severity of the humanitarian crisis there. Moreover, Israel’s occupation of the Syrian Golan and part of Lebanon have seriously endangered peace in the region and beyond.

The representative of Syria said that a humanitarian provider does not provide terrorist groups with endless support and that the greatest humanitarian action that should be carried out by Turkey is to withdraw its occupation forces from Syria.

The representative of Turkey, noting that the country continues to provide unparalleled humanitarian assistance, protection and care to 9 million Syrians — of which approximately 4 million are under temporary protection in her country and the rest are inside Syria — said the representative of Syria’s statement is an affront to millions of Syrians who have suffered crimes at the hands of the Syrian regime.

For information media. Not an official record.