Delivered by: Her Excellency Lana Nusseibeh, Ambassador and Permanent Representative
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At the outset, I would like to thank Mrs. Najat Rochdi and Mr. Martin Griffiths for their important briefings.
Nine years ago, this Council adopted the cross-border aid mechanism as an exceptional measure in response to the grave humanitarian repercussions of the Syrian crisis. Today, the presence of this mechanism remains central to the delivery of relief aid. This is especially true following the devastating earthquake that afflicted Syria at a time when humanitarian needs were already at their highest levels after twelve years of the Syrian crisis.
For this reason, and as we approach the end of the mandate for the cross-border aid mechanism, in accordance with resolution 2672, we stress the need to extend this mechanism for twelve months, based on humanitarian principles and immense needs. This is also pertinent given that the Bab al-Hawa crossing is considered essential in this aspect, where 85% of aid passes through the Syrian-Turkish border. We stress that we all have a moral responsibility that requires us to separate our humanitarian duty from any political considerations and to meet the needs of the Syrian people.
We reaffirm the urgent need to deliver this aid by every possible means and through all modalities to ensure access to all those in need. In this context, we believe that the Syrian government’s recent decision to extend the opening of two additional crossings for another three months in response to the urgent and exceptional needs resulting from the earthquake is a crucial step. This decision contributed to the transfer of thousands of tons of humanitarian aid across the Syrian-Turkish border.
As for cross-line aid, we take note of the passing of the eleventh convoy for the first time since February this year, just days before the extension of the cross-border aid mechanism. We repeat our calls for increasing the number of these convoys in a consistent and continuous manner with no impediments.
We call here on all parties to permit the passage of cross-line convoys in, while stressing that obstruction of their passage is unacceptable. Aid should not be used as a bargaining chip by any of the obstructive parties on the ground, and all parties must also ensure appropriate conditions for the passage of humanitarian convoys.
In this regard, we welcome the Syrian government’s decision to grant the United Nations a blanket approval for the delivery of cross-line aid, as part of the its measures to facilitate aid delivery.
While the UAE continues its humanitarian efforts to alleviate the difficult living conditions of Syrians, we stress the need to focus on early recovery projects, the reconstruction of infrastructure, and the rehabilitation of public facilities.
Syrians are still suffering from chronic shortages of electricity, fuel, and water. More than 12 million people are food insecure, and more than 15 million people are in need for aid, half of whom are women and girls.
In light of this, the UAE believes that early recovery projects are necessary to provide basic services to Syrians. They contribute to building schools, hospitals, and homes and provide job opportunities, in addition to their necessary role in addressing the humanitarian situation through a sustainable approach. This will create the appropriate conditions conducive to the voluntary return of refugees and to alleviate pressure on the host countries.
As part of its efforts to support early recovery projects in earthquake affected areas, the UAE has worked to build 1,000 temporary housing units and rehabilitate 40 schools. In addition, plans are underway to start the construction of 500 additional temporary housing units.
The UAE also notes the importance of supporting de-mining efforts in the Syrian territories as part of early recovery projects. These activities help facilitate a return to normal life as well as avoid the catastrophic repercussions of these mines on civilians, especially children and humanitarian workers.
In conclusion, while we affirm the need to extend the cross-border aid mechanism, we also urge the Council not to be satisfied with addressing the humanitarian situation and overlooking the importance of finding a peaceful and lasting solution to the Syrian crisis that addresses its security, humanitarian, and political dimensions. In this context, we also look forward to continued Arab diplomatic efforts, which we hope will achieve progress to help Syria overcome the various challenges it faces.