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Remarks by Ambassador Zhang Jun at Security Council VTC Meeting on Syria (Humanitarian)

2020-05-19 10:44

Mr. President,

I thank USG Mr. Lowcock for his briefing. We have also studied very carefully the report of the Secretary-General on cross-line and cross-border operations in Syria. We welcome colleagues from Syria and from Turkey to participate in this meeting.

China pays close attention to the humanitarian situation in Syria. We are worried that the humanitarian situation could be further deteriorated by the impact of COVID-19. We welcome the ceasefire appeals made by the SG and his Special Envoy, call on all parties to enhance mutual trust and jointly safeguard the well-being of the Syrian people.

As we have stated repeatedly, the Syrian Government bears the primary responsibility to improve the humanitarian situation in Syria, including preventing and containing the spread of COVID-19. Its role cannot be replaced. The Syrian Government has taken responsive measures to raise public awareness of the virus and reduce risk of community transmission. These efforts should be acknowledged. We encourage OCHA, other UN agencies and international community to help strengthen Syria’s capacity to respond to the pandemic. China has provided medical assistance to Syria to combat COVID-19 and we will continue to do so.

Concerning cross-line humanitarian assistance, we are pleased to see the improvement in the scale of such operations. The Syrian Government maintained close contact with the UN in conducting cross-line operations as well as assessment missions. We encourage further cooperation and coordination in this regard. The relevant parties should enhance political dialogue, and remove all obstacles which hinder cross-line humanitarian access to the northwest and northeast of Syria.

With regard to cross-border humanitarian assistance, our position has been clear and consistent. We agree that all forms of humanitarian operations should be modified to meet the new challenges posed by the pandemic, and take into full account the need of the Syrian people. Meanwhile, we should remember that cross-border mechanism was established as contingency or temporary measures. The sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria must be respected under any circumstance.

It’s also our view that the humanitarian issue of Syria should be dealt with in an integrated and impartial way. We call on all parties to continue to engage in "Syrian-led, Syrian-owned" political process in line with UN Security Council Resolution 2254. Civilians and their livelihood must be protected. In this connection, we reiterate the urgency of the immediate lift of unilateral sanctions. Unilateral sanctions not only hinder medical supplies, but also undermine a country's capacity to mobilize resources, develop economy, and improve people’s livelihood. There’s no way to justify unilateral sanctions. We call for more analysis on the humanitarian implications of sanctions in future reports on the Syrian humanitarian issue.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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