Statement on behalf of Sweden and Kuwait at the UN Security Council Briefing on Syria
Joint statement delivered by Ambassador Mansour Al-Otaibi on behalf of Sweden and Kuwait at the United Nations Security Council Briefing on Syria, 27 March 2018, New York.
Thank you Mr. President,
I deliver this speech today on behalf of Kuwait and Sweden. I would like to thank the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mr. Marc Lowcock on his briefing. Today, I will address three main areas, status of implementation of resolution 2401, measures needed to improve the humanitarian situation, and responsibility of the parties in implementing the resolution.
First, status of implementation of resolution 2401:
We convene today, one month after the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2401, which called upon all parties to cease hostilities without delay for 30 days since the adoption of the resolution, and we deplore the non-compliance of the resolution.
However, we have to continue to do everything in our power to ensure the full implementation of the resolution throughout Syria. The increase achieved in the number of humanitarian convoys that entered the besieged areas during the month of March shows that partial delivery was achieved compared with the complete deadlock in access during the previous months. This indicates that progress can be made in the implementation of the resolution, and we must build on this progress. We affirm that the provisions of the resolution continue to remain valid beyond the first 30 days since it was adopted. We look forward to the Secretariat's continued reporting on the status of implementation of resolution 2401 through monthly briefings as stipulated in the resolution, and in this regard, we support the proposal to provide further regular updates to the Council.
We appreciate the continued efforts of the United Nations to facilitate talks between all parties in Eastern Ghouta with the goal of reaching a ceasefire. We are particularly concerned about the continued military offensive by the Government on Eastern Ghouta, as well as air strikes on Daraa and Idlib. The shelling on Damascus from Eastern Ghouta is also of concern. All these acts of violence have claimed the lives of hundreds of innocent civilians.
Second: Procedures required to protect civilians fleeing Eastern Ghouta and improve the humanitarian situation in collective shelters:
As we have said before, implementation of resolution 2401 is the only way to improve the humanitarian situation and to achieve tangible progress in this regard. These provisions stipulate the cessation of hostilities and allowing access for humanitarian aid to reach the civilian population. Regarding the situation in Eastern Ghouta, we have five points to convey to the relevant parties, which represents our special concerns on the protection of civilians:
1. All evacuations must be voluntary, people must have the right to return and to choose the safe places to go to.
2. Any negotiations on the evacuation of civilians should include civilian representatives, for example, local councils.
3. Humanitarian aid convoys should continue to enter Eastern Ghouta, for the benefit of those who decided to stay there, these convoys should occur on a weekly basis as stipulated in resolution 2401, according to United Nations assessment of needs including medical items and with full access for its staff.
4. Human right violations and abuses including arbitrary detention, disappearances, and forced conscriptions must end. These are serious protection concerns both for civilians staying in Eastern Ghouta and for those leaving. We therefore encourage a reinforced UN protection presence in the collective shelters and in Eastern Ghouta once the security situation allows, as well as a role for the UN to register who is being evacuated and where they are being taken, including protection monitors to prevent sexual violence. We call on the Syrian authorities to grant permission for this immediately.
5. There is a need to rapidly improve the exacerbating situation in the collective shelters for these IDP's, as the number of new arrivals continues to increase. We are deeply concerned that UN partners are bearing the brunt of the burden beyond their capacity. It is therefore necessary to make maximum use of the UN, its staff, and resources to assist in the management of increasingly crowded collective shelters of IDP's. We welcome the UN's plans to increase staff on the ground to this end and we encourage the UN to do the same for Eastern Ghouta as soon as the security situation allowscall upon the Syrian authorities to grant visas for additional staff immediately.
Third: Responsibility of Parties to implement resolution 2401:
There rests a collective responsibility on us as members of the Security Council, and specifically the influential parties, to work with the Syrian authorities and prod them to implement the provisions of resolution 2401 according to the International Humanitarian Law (IHL). We expect the Astana Guarantors –Russia, Iran, and Turkey – to make progress delivering on the commitments in their statement issued on March 16 before their upcoming Summit meeting in Istanbul on April 4, namely: 1) rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access to areas affected by the conflict; 2) as guarantors of the ceasefire agreements, step up efforts to ensure observance of the respective agreements; and 3) continue efforts to implement the provisions of 2401.
In this regard, we affirm our full commitment to continue to closely follow the status of implementation of the resolution in the monthly reports to the Council, we will spare no effort to make progress on implementation. This month marks the beginning of the eighth year of the conflict in Syria, and sadly, after the start of eight years in this conflict, there is still a need for the cessation of violence, sustained humanitarian access through weekly convoys across conflict lines, medical evacuations, the protection of civilians and hospitals and the lifting of sieges.