Statement by Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the UN Vassily Nebenzia at the Briefing to the Security Council on the Humanitarian Situation in Syria
We thank Mr M.Lowcock for his statement.
We share concerns about the situation that is unfolding in the Idlib de-escalation zone, the area of which is largely controlled by Nusra alliance Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham that forces out the moderate armed opposition. The number of violations of the ceasefire regime is continuously growing. Since the Russian-Turkish memorandum was signed on 17 September 2018, over 1000 of such cases have been reported, as a result of which more than 65 people have died, over 200 have been injured.
From the very beginning we have been saying, that it will not work out for long to freeze the situation in the areas where terrorists are present. This approach cannot be viewed as a long-term and sustainable option to protect the local population. Unfortunately, the new developments confirm that our views were right.
In this regard after the talks between the Russian and Turkish leaders in Moscow on 23 January work was stepped up to develop effective, feasible and agreed-upon measures regarding the Idlib de-escalation zone. Apart from this during the Russian-Turkish summit discussions were conducted on how to interact in the north-east of Syria, this includes how to use the potential of the existing bilateral legal basis for the Turkish-Syrian counter terrorist cooperation.
Our position remains unchanged. The best solution for stabilization of the situation in the north-west and north-east is tied to passing those areas under the control of legitimate authorities of SAR. This will benefit not only Syria but will make it possible to lift the concerns of the neighboring countries in terms of their national security.
Stabilization is a necessary precondition to make serious progress on the humanitarian front. It is necessary to make the Syrians be able to get back to their normal life and to prevent a situation, where normal people start to feel kinship with terrorists. That is why it is required to establish joint work to improve the complicated social and economic situation in the country, to restore what has been destroyed by terrorists, to guarantee the unalienable right of refugees and IDPs to return to their homeland.
We believe that, to say the least, it is unethical to be selective when it comes to providing help to the Syrian population. Politicizing on the issue of humanitarian assistance is unacceptable. One should not just blame the Syrian government, while ignoring, for example, what has happened in Raqqa or is happening in Rukban. Despite a number of concerns about the way humanitarian activities in Syria are carried out, Russia always welcomes initiatives that aim at helping the population. This was the case with extending the mechanism of trans-border aid and sending the first humanitarian convoy to Rukban. Same happens with the second humanitarian convoy.
On the whole the humanitarian situation in Syria remains complicated, however stepping up of positive trends cannot be denied. The renewed statistics of OCHA proves this. The regions that have been stabilized and liberated from terrorists are returning to normal life.
The Syrian refugees understand and realize this, when they decide to voluntarily return home. This process is taking on a sustainable character. Under the coordination of the Russian Centre for the Reconciliation of Opposing Sides the work of ten checkpoints has been established, including one air checkpoint Duwali and one maritime checkpoint Baniyas. Tens of thousands of people used these checkpoints to get back to SAR.
Russia will continue to provide humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people on a non-politicized basis. From the beginning of the settlement process the Russian Centre for the Reconciliation of Opposing Sides has carried out 2052 humanitarian actions. The total weight of humanitarian cargo amounted to 3238,5 tons.
Assistance is being stepped up in rebuilding infrastructure and creating conditions for the return of refugees. As of 27 January 2018 the total of 31 117 homes, 726 educational and 134 medical facilities had been restored, 986 km of roads had been repaired.
We hope that those who are sincerely concerned about the fate of ordinary Syrians, will soon manage to abandon any biased agenda and policy of unilateral sanctions and join the efforts to overcome devastation and establish people’s normal day-to-day life.
In line with humanitarian and de-escalation efforts, together with our partners from Turkey and Iran and in coordination with Syrian sides and the UN we will continue painstaking work at the political track as well as activities to launch Constitutional Committee in Geneva.
The visit of Special Envoy Pedersen to Moscow on 21 January and talks with Foreign Minister Lavrov and Defense Minister Shoygu reiterated commitment to promote Syria-led political process under the UN auspices. We believe that the next regular summit of Astana guarantors in the middle of February will give another impetus to the Syrian settlement.