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Remarks by Ambassador Geng Shuang at the UN General Assembly Debate on the Use of Veto on Syria humanitarian issue

2023-07-19 17:15

Mr. President,

In the recent past, the Council held rounds of discussions on the renewal of the mandate for cross-border humanitarian assistance into Syria. Pen holders did a great deal of work, and relevant members made tireless efforts. Regrettably, with the Council sharply divided, including its lack of consensus on such issues as unilateral sanctions, neither of the draft resolutions was adopted.

Mr. President,

The Syrian crisis has dragged on for more than a decade. The Syrian people have suffered gravely. China has always had Syrian people's well-being at heart and supported the UN and the international community in delivering humanitarian relief throughout Syria in line with the principles of humanity, neutrality, and impartiality and on the basis of full respect for Syria’s sovereignty and the ownership of the Syrian Government, so as to meet the humanitarian needs of the entire Syrian population.

The cross-border humanitarian assistance mechanism was established by the Council through its resolution to meet humanitarian needs of the people in northwestern Syria. The Syrian Government recently took the initiative to announce that they would allow the UN and its specialized agencies to provide humanitarian assistance to people in need in northwestern Syria through Bab al-Hawa border crossing over the next six months. China welcomes the sovereign decision of the Syrian Government that is responsible and constructive. OCHA has confirmed that the Syrian Government's permission can be a basis for the UN to lawfully conduct humanitarian operations via Bab al-Hawa border crossing. China encourages the UN and the Syrian Government to properly resolve operational issues through dialogue and consultation in a way that fully respects the sovereignty of Syria and the ownership of the Syrian Government and meets the humanitarian needs of northwestern Syria. The smooth operation of Bab al-Salam and al-Ra’ee, two crossings additionally open in February, can be of useful reference in this regard. The international community should create a favorite atmosphere for the UN and Syria to strengthen dialogue and deepen cooperation. At the same time, China reiterates that the cross-border mechanism is a temporary arrangement made under specific circumstances and that it is necessary to speed up transition to cross-line assistance and phase out the cross-border mechanism until its eventual exit.

Providing relief to northwestern Syria is not the whole picture of Syria’s humanitarian situation. It is important to step up humanitarian funding for Syria to secure adequate, balanced, and sustainable funding for the entire territory of the country. Greater support is needed for early recovery efforts by expanding scope of projects and supporting Syria in key areas to achieve sustainable development. Unilateral sanctions against Syria should be lifted immediately and unconditionally to mitigate disruption of humanitarian assistance to Syria and damage to the foundations of its economic and social development.

Finally, I would like to note that the ultimate solution to the Syrian humanitarian issue lies in the political settlement of the Syrian issue in line with the principle of a Syrian-led and Syrian-owned process. China supports Special Envoy Pedersen in his efforts to promote the Syrian political process, as mandated by Council Resolution 2254. With Syria’s return to the Arab family, we believe that unity and cooperation of the regional countries will give new impetus to the political settlement of the Syria issue. The international community should also play a constructive role in creating a favorable external environment for dialogue reconciliation among Syrian parties. Once again, we urge foreign forces to end their illegal military presence in Syria and cease all acts that undermine Syria's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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