Statement by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at UNSC meeting on political and humanitarian situation in Syria
We thank Ms. Najat Rochdi, Deputy Special Envoy and Mr. Martin Griffiths, Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs for their briefings on the political and humanitarian situation in Syria.
We see no alternative to advancing the process of Syrian-led and Syrian-owned political settlement in Syria with the assistance of the UN, in strict accordance with Security Council Resolution 2254. This understanding was confirmed during the meeting of Mr. Sergey Vershinin, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia with Mr. Geir Pedersen, Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General that took place on September 7th in Geneva. In this context, we are convinced of the importance of resuming the work of the Constitutional Committee (CC) as the best format for direct inter-Syrian dialogue without being tied to a specific location.
For our part, we will continue to promote the dynamic work of the CC so that the Syrians themselves, without outside interference, can come to an agreement on all outstanding issues related to the future of their country. Together with our partners in the Astana format - Iran and Turkey - we will continue to help achieve sustainable stabilization in Syria.
Against this background, the situation "on the ground" remains invariably tense. The continued threat of another military operation in the north of the country, the increase in the number of arbitrary attacks by the Israeli Air Force, as well as the continued illegal foreign military presence of the United States and its allies in the Trans-Euphrates and Al-Tanf exacerbate an already explosive situation.
We particularly regret the de-facto disregard by the international community, including the UN leadership, of Damascus' numerous appeals regarding violations of the UN Charter and international law, in particular, in relation to the US occupation of Syrian regions and plundering of Syrian natural resources by the United States. According to the Syrian Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources, the losses of the energy sector since 2011 as a result of the actions of the United States and the Kurdish administration amounted to more than 107 billion USD.
In the current situation, Western states, primarily the United States, should reconsider their approaches and give up the wrongful aspiration to ensure the international isolation of Syria. In particular, they should stop interfering with the process of its return to the Arab family. The earliest normalization of relations between Damascus and its neighbors in the region, the establishment of dialogue and engagement with the Syrian leadership will contribute to a long-term settlement in the SAR and the overall stabilization of the situation in the region. In practical terms, this would help increase the effectiveness of collective efforts to combat terrorism and, as a result, strengthen regional security, and would also help encourage Syrians to return home.
It is regrettable that purely humanitarian instruments are also used in order to consolidate the territorial division of the country and undermine the sovereignty of Damascus. A good example of it is the cross-border mechanism for humanitarian aid, established in 2014 as a special and temporary measure, bypassing the Government of the SAR and in violation of the guidelines for humanitarian assistance of UNGA Resolution 46/182.
Under the guise of caring for the 4 million people in need in Idlib, they are effectively ignoring the needs of the remaining millions of Syrians, most of whom live in government-controlled areas. When it comes to those people, Western countries not only deny urgent assistance, but also politicize the early recovery of critical civilian infrastructure, which is on the verge of collapse. In parallel, the United States and its allies are strangling the Syrians with illegal unilateral sanctions, while publicly easing restrictions for regions not controlled by Damascus.
The desire to keep Syrian refugees in host countries at all costs is also indicative, as well as the existence of the Al Hol and Rukban camps, notorious for the depressing humanitarian situation. The security situation in that same Al Hol crosses all possible lines. Premeditated killings have already become commonplace there. We emphasize that the United States is fully responsible for what is happening in the Trans-Euphrates, as well as in the Al-Tanf zone artificially created by Washington, flooded with militants of various stripes.
We view the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 2642 not only as a difficult compromise, but also as an urgent measure to depoliticize and expand international humanitarian assistance to Syria. This includes the establishment of sustainable cross-line access to all parts of the country from Damascus and the early restoration of water and electricity, medical and educational facilities, and housing. We look forward to the opportunity that this resolution provides for the first time for a frank exchange of views on the platform in New York on specific modalities of humanitarian action in the framework of an informal interactive dialogue. We look forward to a constructive discussion within its first round, scheduled for this month.