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Remarks by Ambassador Zhang Jun at Security Council Briefing on Syria

2021-06-25 10:16

Mr. President.

China thanks Secretary-General Mr. Guterres, Mr. Rajasingham from OCHA and Ms. Ibrahim for their briefings. We also welcome Syria, Iran and Turkey to participate in today's meeting. China has carefully studied the SG report.

The humanitarian situation in Syria is facing multiple challenges. A declining economy, sharp depreciation of its currency, severe food insecurity, rapid transmission of COVID-19 and oil shortages have impacted both agricultural production and humanitarian relief operations. To improve the Syrian humanitarian situation requires joint global efforts and a holistic approach.

——It is important to have the Syrian Government fully play its leading role, and continue to scale up cross-line humanitarian relief operations. China appreciates that WFP, UNICEF, UNFPA and UNHCR have been delivering humanitarian assistance to millions of people every month through cross-line operations. During April this year, the World Health Organization provided from within Syria 348,000 medical services to civilians in northeast Syria. This fully proves the effectiveness and feasibility of cross-line operations, and also points out that there’s room for further expansion. The Syrian Government has approved earlier the cross-line humanitarian operations into northwest Syria and relevant international humanitarian organizations are also making efforts in this regard. The UN should strengthen cooperation with the ICRC and other humanitarian agencies and make every effort to open up the cross-line access from Damascus to Idlib. When considering the draft resolution on humanitarian issues in Syria, the Council should put forward specific requirements for scaling up cross-line humanitarian assistance.

——Unilateral sanctions and economic blockade must be lifted immediately to help Syria restore normal order. Years of illegal sanctions have severely damaged Syria’s economic and social development, exacerbated its humanitarian crisis, and weakened its ability to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many humanitarian agencies have shared that humanitarian relief funds often cannot be remitted into Syria because financial institutions try to avert the risk of being sanctioned. Syrian infrastructures, such as water stations, hospitals and schools often fail to function due to the lack of sanctioned equipment, such as power generators. The so-called humanitarian exemption, frankly speaking, is nothing but a placebo for the conscience, and a hypocritical cover-up. As long as unilateral sanctions are not removed, the humanitarian situation in Syria will not be fundamentally improved. Secretary-General Mr. Guterres, the High Commissioner for Human Rights and OCHA have repeatedly expressed concern over the humanitarian consequences of unilateral sanctions and have called for the lifting of relevant measures. This has won the support of the overwhelming majority of member states. As we repeatedly say we care for the people of Syria, such care shouldn't be an empty political declaration. The Council should uphold justice, face up to this issue, and give a definitive answer to the Syrian people and to the broad membership.

——It is necessary to stick to dialogue and consultation to properly resolve differences on the renewal of the authorization for the cross-border mechanism. China's consistent position is that the international community should deliver humanitarian assistance to Syria on the basis of respecting Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. We have always had concerns about the problems arising from the cross-border mechanism. At the same time, China takes note of the UN ongoing humanitarian operations in northwest Syria through the cross-border mechanism. The Council should specify clear requirements for cross-border humanitarian assistance, monitor the whole process, ensure neutrality and transparency and ensure that it is not used for other purposes. It is necessary to perform regular reviews of relevant monitoring mechanisms by the Council and require these mechanisms to provide more detailed updates to prevent inadequate monitoring or inaccurate information. In the last two years, on the Syria issue the Council has fallen into major divisions on several occasions. It not only hampers problem solving, but also damages mutual trust among all parties and undermines the authority and image of the Council. The Council should solve problems in a more pragmatic way, focus on specific goals, and push all parties to find compromise solutions through dialogue and negotiation to avoid serious confrontation.

China always maintains that the Syria issue should be dealt with through a comprehensive and integrated approach, taking into account political, counter-terrorism, security and humanitarian aspects. We urge all parties to step up dialogue and consultation, actively promote the Syrian-led and Syria-owned political process, and work together towards a peaceful, just and proper settlement of the Syria issue at an early date.

Thank you Mr. President.

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