Delivered by H.E. Mohamed Abushahab, Deputy Permanent Representative
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At the outset, I would like to thank Secretary-General António Guterres for his important statement, that affirmed the need to deliver aid through all available means throughout Syria and thank Mr. Martin Griffiths for his extensive briefing. We also thank Mr. Iyad Al Agha for his intervention.
Eight years ago, and in response to the serious humanitarian repercussions of the Syrian crisis, this Council adopted the cross-border aid delivery mechanism as an exceptional measure. The unanimous adoption of resolution 2139 by Member States reflects the moral responsibility of separating humanitarian duty from political considerations, thereby ensuring the delivery of aid to those in need in Syria.
Although the purpose of this mechanism is still relevant and urgent, it should be noted that it is an exceptional and temporary measure. It should not be considered as a long-term solution, especially in light of the changing conditions on the ground, including the increase in the number of people in need. Today, more than 14 million people in Syria are in need of humanitarian assistance compared to 10 million people in 2014. Therefore, humanitarian plans must be consistent with the requirements of the current phase of the crisis, namely an increase in the number of cross-line convoys in conjunction with additional support for early recovery projects.
Furthermore, in the context of the current situation in northern Syria and the ongoing escalation on the Turkish-Syrian border, we stress that the cross-border aid delivery mechanism should not be used to justify political interests. Misuse will undermine its credibility as a purely humanitarian mechanism. It should not be used as a tool to interfere in Syria’s affairs. In this regard, we stress the importance of the delivery of humanitarian aid through the Bab al-Hawa crossing via UN humanitarian agencies and their partners on the ground. We also highlight the urgency of providing protection for humanitarian workers, especially after the targeting of a humanitarian worker in al-Bab last week that resulted in his death.
As for cross-line delivery of aid, the UAE welcomes the recent passage of the fifth convoy into northwest Syria. In this context, we recognize the need to increase the number of cross-line humanitarian operations so the number is closer to that of operations passing through the cross-border mechanism. The UAE appreciates UN efforts in this regard, and we call on all parties to allow these convoys to urgently pass through smoothly and without hindrance to ensure the delivery of humanitarian relief to those in need. The parties on the ground should not be able to control the passage of aid or use it as a bargaining chip.
Last year, the members of this Council spoke with one voice and unanimously adopted resolution 2585, which specified the importance of supporting and implementing early recovery projects in Syria for the first time. The adoption of the resolution reflected the need for urgent relief on the ground. Accordingly, we must now consider how to intensify early recovery efforts by rehabilitating and rebuilding the infrastructure that was destroyed. In addition, international programs in food security, water, electricity, and health should be strengthened as key parts of early recovery efforts, which have become essential in light of the global food and health crises.
With regard to the recent damage incurred at Damascus International Airport and its subsequent closure, we stress the importance of protecting civilian infrastructure to ensure the continuity of humanitarian operations in the area.
In conclusion, we stress the importance of the continued delivery of humanitarian and relief aid in all Syrian regions without hindrance, based on humanitarian principles, and without politicization to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people.
Thank you, Mr. President.