Swedish statement at the UNSC Briefing on the Middle East (Syria)
National statement delivered by Ambassador Carl Skau on behalf of Sweden at the United Nations Security Council Briefing on the situation in Syria, 27 March 2018, New York.
As Kuwait has already delivered a joint statement on our behalf, I will make my remarks very brief.
One month ago, this Council adopted resolution 2401 by consensus in response to the deafening calls for action to address the horrific humanitarian situation in Syria. Today, we have heard around this table, a continued commitment to moving forward with implementation of the resolution.
Mr President, I wanted to speak last, trying to identify some points of convergence. And from the discussion today, we believe that there are a number of critical areas where there is broad agreement within the Council.
Firstly, we all share a deep disappointment and sense of dissatisfaction and frustration with the lack of implementation. While a limited increase in access for humanitarian convoys shows that progress is possible, much more is needed. The resolution remains in force and all parties remain obliged to comply.
Secondly, we have heard a common concern at the continuing hostilities throughout the country, particularly the ongoing military offensive in Eastern Ghouta. Those who leave the area should do so voluntarily, with the right to return, and a choice of safe places to go to. At the same time, humanitarian aid convoys must continue to support those who choose to remain.
Thirdly, we agree that efforts to strengthen the protection of civilians must be stepped up by the UN and its partners, both inside Eastern Ghouta, for those leaving and in the collective shelters. Let me highlight that, the prevention of sexual and gender based violence should be an integral part of these efforts. We condemn the attacks in February that affected health facilities.
Based on our discussion today, it would be interesting to hear from the Under-Secretary-General if he sees any additional measures that the UN can undertake to increase the protection of civilians in or leaving from Eastern Ghouta. How can the Council and the UN do better by learning from the experience of Aleppo or Homs?
Many colleagues today also reiterated that resolution 2401 applies across the whole of the country. I just wanted to mention our concern at the Turkish operation in Afrin, and by statements by Turkey on expanding its military operations in the North beyond Afrin. We are also concerned about the protection of civilians fleeing Afrin as well as the difficult conditions for those remaining. We call on all relevant parties, in particular Turkey, to ensure the protection of civilians, facilitate cross-border and cross-line humanitarian aid deliveries as well as the freedom of movement for IDPs.
The need for the full implementation of resolution 2401 remains as urgent today as when it was adopted. As Ambassador Al-Otaibi has said, we will spare no effort to make progress on the implementation of resolution 2401. We will continue to work actively to this end, creatively considering possible further steps and remain ready to reconvene the Council at any time, should the situation warrant the Council's renewed action.
We are convinced that unity of this Council, as difficult as it may be, is the only way to effectively make real difference on the ground and alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people. From our side, even when terribly frustrated, we will never give up trying to achieve such change.
I thank you.