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Remarks by Ambassador Geng Shuang at Security Council Open VTC on the Political and Humanitarian Situation in Syria

2020-10-27 03:37

Mr. President,

I thank Special Envoy Pedersen and USG Mr. Lowcock for their briefings.

China always believes political solution is the only way out for the Syrian conflict and calls on the international community to scale up humanitarian assistance to Syrian people. We support the UN to continue playing a leading and coordinating role in these regards. Today, I would like to highlight four points:

First, we should adhere to the principle of “Syrian-led and Syrian-owned” and redouble our efforts to push forward the political process.

China welcomes the consensus achieved at the third session of the Small Body of the Constitutional Committee. We appreciate Special Envoy Pedersen’s efforts to prepare for the fourth session, including his recent visit to Damascus. We hope the parties concerned will maintain close contact with the Special Envoy and advance the political dialogue on the basis of existing consensus, so as to achieve tangible results as soon as possible. Meanwhile, the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Syria must be fully respected and defended. The work of the Syrian Constitutional Committee must remain independent, free from foreign interference and manipulation. Propositions or actions that go against the fundamental interests of the Syrian people will not enjoy wide support and will go nowhere.

Second, we should stabilize the security situation across Syria to create conditions for the political process and humanitarian operations.

Since March, the ground situation in the northwest of Syria has been generally stable and calm. Relevant parties have made great efforts to maintain the ceasefire arrangement. China calls on the Syrian parties to heed the ceasefire appeals from the Secretary-General and his Special Envoy, and encourage the Astana Process to continue playing an important role in this regard. Meanwhile, the security situation in Syria is still faced with multiple challenges and risks. Foreign occupation has caused turbulence in Syria and the region beyond, and the terrorists are seeking to take advantage of the pandemic to expand its operation and control. According to the Secretary-General’s report, many armed groups are systematically targeting civilians, and ISIL cells have stepped up their attacks and insurgence. The international community should help and support the Syrian side in coping with these security challenges, combating terrorism, and defending national security and stability.

Third, we should improve local humanitarian conditions with holistic measures.

The economic situation in Syria is still very fragile, and the Syrian government has taken a host of measures to address the difficult situation of its national economy. The international community should take concrete steps, fulfill pledges of assistance, and support Syria in developing its economy, rebuilding its infrastructure and improving people’s livelihoods. The humanitarian assistance should not be accompanied with preconditions, nor should it be used as a tool to pressure the Syrian Government.

China supports the UN in implementing and promoting cross-line and cross-border humanitarian operations. The WHO has recently completed its delivery of medical aid to northeast Syria by land from Damascus, and the WFP-led Logistics Cluster has expanded the transhipment hub at the Bab al-Hawa crossing point. These efforts and progress should be fully recognized. We encourage the UN to strengthen its dialogue with the Syrian Government and local authorities to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of cross-line operations, simplify procedures in cross-border operations, and make relentless efforts to meet the humanitarian needs of the Syrian people.

Fourth, we call for the immediate lifting of unilateral coercive measures (UCMs) against Syria.

UCMs have severely weakened Syria’s economic foundation and resources mobilization capacity, and hindered the Syrian people’s access to medical supplies and services. Vulnerable groups, including women, children and IDPs, bear the brunt of its impact. China urges those responsible countries to respond to the appeals of the Secretary-General and his Special Envoy, heed the call of the vast majority of UN member states, and immediately lift UCMs against Syria. The Security Council should give a serious look into the negative impacts of UCMs, listen to the concerns of the illegally sanctioned countries, and push for alleviation of the impact and the ultimate solutions. OCHA should also pay close attention to this issue and provide analysis and recommendations in relevant reports.

Before I conclude, let me talk about the COVID-19 briefly. In recent days, we see a surge of confirmed cases in many countries and regions, and there is a risk of second wave of coronavirus globally this fall and winter. As a vulnerable country, Syria suffers heavily from the pandemic due to lack of health care resources and limited testing and treatment capacity. According to the Secretary-General’s report, there are signs of a high degree of community transmission in Syria, and the densely inhabited districts in particular IDP camps, are faced with greater risks. The international community should strengthen support for the Syrian Government and the WHO in taking more proactive measures to prevent the spread of the virus and save lives. China has provided medical assistance to Syria. We will continue to help Syria to prevent and contain the virus and support the Syrian people in overcoming the pandemic at an early date.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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