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Remarks by Ambassador Zhang Jun at the UN Security Council Briefing on the Humanitarian Issue of Syria

2022-06-20 18:00

Mr. President,

I welcome Mr. Secretary-General to this meeting, and thank Under-Secretary-General Griffiths for his briefing just now. I also listened attentively to the briefing by the civil society representative.

The mandate of the Security Council Resolution 2585 on humanitarian assistance to Syria will expire in July. Last year, this resolution has played a part in easing the humanitarian situation in Syria. However, it has not been fully and effectively implemented. The Council should conduct a comprehensive analysis and adopt an integrated approach to overcome the obstacles to humanitarian relief in a targeted manner, and make more reasonable and effective arrangements for the next stage of humanitarian relief.

First, fully respecting the sovereignty of Syria and the ownership of the Syrian Government, and ensuring the effective functioning of cross-line delivery. Respect of sovereignty and territorial integrity is an universally recognized basic norm of international relations, as well as a fundamental principle of international humanitarian assistance. Cross-line delivery should be the primary avenue for humanitarian assistance to Syria. However, last year, despite the explicit requirements of Resolution 2585, there has been limited input in this regard, with only five successful cross-line deliveries and 70 truckloads of supplies in northwestern Syria. The litany of obstacles we have heard should not be the reason to abandon further efforts. The Council must make specific demands to increase the efficiency and scale of cross-line delivery, promote capacity building for parties to ensure safe passage, and support the efforts of international humanitarian agencies.

China would like to stress that the key infrastructure needed for cross-line delivery must be fully protected. We note with concern that the Permanent Representative of Syria sent a letter to the President of the Security Council on June 13, condemning the Israeli attack on Damascus International Airport on June 10. Damascus International Airport is a vital hub for humanitarian supplies for cross-line delivery. China urges the countries concerned to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria, strictly abide by international humanitarian law, and stop all attacks on humanitarian infrastructure.

Second, vigorously promoting early recovery projects, and nurturing the endogenous economic development in the country. The Security Council, in its Resolution 2585, urged all parties concerned to support early recovery projects. Regrettably, however, some countries have always been using the early recovery projects as a political bargaining chip, and reluctant to fund, resulting in unsatisfactory implementation of projects. Humanitarian relief should not be politicized. China urges the donors concerned to uphold the humanitarian spirit, serve the welfare of all Syrian people, give priority to funding early recovery projects without preconditions, and promote the early implementation of more projects. The Council must make concrete efforts to this end.

Third, actively engaging in dialogue and consultation for the proper arrangement of cross-border humanitarian aid delivery. China has always maintained that the cross-border mechanism is only an extraordinary arrangement made under specific circumstances. The Council should assess the effectiveness and applicability of the mechanism in a timely manner in light of the developments on the ground, and make adjustments accordingly. Cross-border humanitarian operations in northwestern Syria must be carried out in strict compliance with the Council’s resolutions, and the neutrality and transparency of the assistance must be ensured. A clear timeline should be set for the termination of cross-border delivery, and the transition to the cross-line approach promoted accordingly. China hopes that the members of Council will, through dialogue and consultation, find a viable solution for the arrangement after the expiration of Resolution 2585.

Fourth, lifting immediately and fully the unilateral sanctions, and creating a favorable external environment for economic recovery in Syria. It is estimated that the unilateral sanctions imposed by relevant countries over the years have caused at least tens of billions of US dollars in economic loss to Syria. This has greatly weakened the Syrian Government’s ability to raise resources and carry out reconstruction, run counter to the efforts of the Council and the international community to improve the humanitarian access and resources in Syria, and become the biggest obstacles to the improvement of humanitarian situation in the country. Just now, we heard from the statements by lots of member states that they care about the human rights in Syria and the humanitarian situation in the country. Maintaining and adding unilateral sanctions while expressing concerns for the welfare of the Syrian people is self-contradictory. China urges the countries concerned to immediately and fully lift the unilateral sanctions imposed on Syria, and the relevant Council resolutions must make clear requirements in this regard.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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