Delivered By: His Excellency Mohamed Abushahab, Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative
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I thank Mr. Geir Pedersen and Ms. Lisa Doughten for their important briefings.
The political situation has, for a long time, not seen any signs of diplomatic progress that would suggest any possibility of ending the Syrian crisis, which has entered its thirteenth year. We therefore stress the need to intensify efforts to overcome this current stalemate in the political track, in a way that preserves Syria’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity.
The UAE believes that Arab diplomacy can make important contributions to end this crisis and other Arab crises. Accordingly, we reaffirm the outcomes of the final statement of the Consultative Meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Egypt, Jordan, and Iraq, held in Jeddah this month, stating that a political solution is the only way to overcome the Syrian crisis and underlining the need for an Arab leadership role in all efforts to this end. This includes by establishing the necessary mechanisms and intensifying consultations among the Arab states to ensure the success of these endeavors. We highly appreciate the efforts of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its initiative to hold this critical meeting.
We also stress the importance of supporting international efforts and the endeavors of the Special Envoy to Syria. At the same time, we affirm the need to end the paralysis that has inflicted the Constitutional Committee over the past period. This Committee is the only platform for conducting a constructive national dialogue, owned, and led by the Syrians, without external interference or demands, and with the aim of advancing the constitutional process.
In conjunction with the efforts exerted at the political level, we must continue to address the security gaps in order to create a conducive environment for restoring stability. This includes countering terrorism, especially when terrorist groups continue to launch attacks, as we have recently seen in the countryside of Deir-Ezzor and Hama. A comprehensive national cease-fire must also be achieved across all regions in Syria, and foreign interference in the country must end.
Turning to the humanitarian situation, Mr. President, we believe that urgent relief aid, despite its importance, has proven to be insufficient to improve the acute humanitarian crisis in Syria. It is a temporary and unsustainable solution. Work must be done to find radical and long-term solutions, especially considering the grave repercussions of the 6th of February earthquake on the Syrian people.
Primarily, this means not politicizing the humanitarian situation and supporting projects for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of infrastructure and public utilities. The Syrians deserve to live in dignity and to have access to basic services, such as drinking water, electricity, and health care. We note here that hundreds of thousands of Syrians live in tents that lack the most basic necessities of living and cannot be relied upon in difficult conditions.
From this standpoint, and in the context of the UAE’s humanitarian efforts to support the recovery and rehabilitation phase, we have started a project to equip 1,000 pre-made housing units to accommodate nearly 6,000 earthquake-affected Syrians located across seven areas in Lattakia Governorate.
As we continue to explore sustainable ways to respond to the growing humanitarian needs, we stress the need to reach all earthquake-affected areas by all suitable routes. It is regrettable that cross-line aid has never been delivered to northwest Syria since the earthquake occurred due to arbitrarily obstruction by terrorist groups, in blatant disregard for humanitarian values and principles. Such obstruction exacerbates the suffering of civilians. We stress the need to work to ensure that cross-line aid reaches those in need without hindrance, in accordance with the Security Council Resolution 2672.
We also stress the need to make every available effort to facilitate the voluntary return of Syrian refugees to their homeland with dignity and safety. We also highlight the need to respond to their humanitarian needs and take this into consideration during the implementation of early recovery and reconstruction projects.
In conclusion, Mr. President, it is crucial to exert efforts across multiple levels so that the Syrian people can overcome this difficult humanitarian ordeal – one which has lasted for more than 12 years – so that they can return to their normal lives and take up their historic role in enriching Arab culture and civilization.
Thank you, Mr. President.