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Statement by Ambassador ZHANG Jun at the Security Council Open Meeting on the Humanitarian Situation in Syria

2020-01-29 04:40

Mr. President,

China listened attentively to the briefing of USG Lowcock.

At present, a large number of people in Syria are still in need of humanitarian assistance. At the same time, Syria's political, economic, security and counter-terrorism dynamics are complex and closely related to the humanitarian situation. To resolve humanitarian issues, we must take all factors into consideration and adopt an integrated approach. I would like to emphasize the following:

First, while scaling up humanitarian assistance, we should, in the meantime, work to fundamentally meet the humanitarian needs, improve the living conditions of the Syrian people by lifting unilateral economic sanctions and supporting reconstruction projects, so as to address both the symptoms and the causes of the issue. The Syrian government is actively working to rebuild housing, livelihoods, medical and educational facilities. Recently, Syria's first anti-cancer drug factory was completed in Damascus, the capital, which shows the commitment to resolving the shortage of medicine caused by unilateral sanctions. Unilateral economic sanctions and insufficient funding for reconstruction are major challenges to improving the humanitarian situation in Syria. For Syrian civilians, this means a lack of fuel for heating, food to be free from hunger, and medicine to treat diseases. This is an important aspect of the humanitarian issue in Syria, and I hope the above situation would be addressed in future humanitarian briefings. China will actively participate in the Syrian reconstruction process under the "Belt and Road" framework, provide Syria with humanitarian assistance within our ability, train more personnel for reconstruction, and help strengthen Syria's independent development capacity.

Second, the international community should work together, adopt unified criteria, combat all forms of terrorism and bring terrorists to justice in accordance with relevant Security Council resolutions and international law. Humanitarian and security issues in Syria are intertwined, and the elimination of terrorist forces is a necessary condition for Syria to restore peace. Terrorist forces currently occupy most of Idlib, threaten the security of civilians, destroy infrastructure and worsen the humanitarian situation. They should be resolutely fought against. The prominent problem of foreign terrorist fighters in Syria and the spillover effects pose common challenges and threats to countries of origin, country concerned, and countries in the region. They must make concerted efforts to tackle the problem. According to relevant reports, in the Al-Hol camp, there are still cases where women are used to provide financial support to terrorist organizations. It is important to be vigilant about various forms of "terrorist support". The United Nations Secretariat should follow closely, collect and consolidate related information, and inform the Security Council in a timely manner.

Third, humanitarian relief efforts should be in strict compliance with international law and basic norms of international relations, the UN Charter and GA resolution 46/182. It should adhere to the principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence, highlight the humanitarian nature and professionalism and refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of the recipient country. Humanitarian assistance to Syria should respect and safeguard Syria's sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity, and avoid politicization. The Syrian government has the primary responsibility for improving the humanitarian situation in the country. OCHA should strengthen coordination with the Syrian government and actively explore ways to increase the delivery of humanitarian assistance from inside Syria, maintain openness and transparency, and inform the Security Council in a timely manner. The cross-border humanitarian relief mechanism is a special relief method adopted under specific circumstances. The United Nations should, in light of developments in Syria, proactively propose plans to evaluate and make adjustments accordingly. When looking for alternatives, we should listen to the views of the Syrian government and strengthen cooperation with the Syrian side.

Mr. President,

Political settlement is the fundamental way to improve the humanitarian situation in Syria. China supports the United Nations, especially Special Envoy Pedersen, in adhering to the principle of a "Syrian-led" and "Syrian-owned" process and promote a political solution that addresses the concerns of all parties.

On the Syrian humanitarian issue, the parties should demonstrate a responsible and constructive attitude. The current humanitarian crisis is a tragedy for the Syrian people, and a tragedy for the international community. The US and the UK are abusing the platform of the Security Council to criticize China and others. China rejects their baseless accusations. I want to emphasize the following:

First, the accusations by the US and the UK do not square with the facts. Due to the high sensitivity of the Syrian humanitarian issue, the Security Council members had had several consultations, and consensus was difficult to reach. The Council had to put the issue to vote a few times. In order to avoid confrontation, China tried to mediate, playing a coordinating role in between to seek a solution. After rounds of consultations, a solution was found. It may not be the most satisfactory one to all parties, but it is the way to solve the problem under the circumstances. China is pleased that a solution has been reached and China has played its role which is recognized by the Council members. The accusations against China are totally unwarranted.

Second, accusing China on the Syrian humanitarian issue makes no sense. Given diverging views among Council members, the Council had to have rounds of consultations and put it to voting multiple times. All countries have the right to make decision based on their own positions. The US and the UK also voted against the alternative draft. Why don't they reflect on that? What makes the US and the UK believe that other countries must vote the way that they do? The era of colonialism is long gone. The time when others must follow the US and the UK is long gone.

Third, it is the US and the UK who should shoulder the responsibility on Syria. China is not engaged in regime change in Syria. China has never dropped bombs on Syrian civilians. China has not a single troop in Syria. China has not occupied any oil fields or wealth of Syria. The US and the UK have no right to accuse China. They are totally hypocritical in acting like humanitarian defenders, and the whole world knows that. We hope all parties will assume the responsibility, avoid politicizing the humanitarian issue, make real efforts to improve the humanitarian situation in Syria and give human rights and humanitarianism back to the Syrian people. Abusing the Council to make groundless accusations does not help solve any problem, but only aggravates the atmosphere of confrontation. We look to relevant countries and their representatives to think deeply on it.

Thank you, Mr. President.


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