Delivered by the Permanent Representative of Estonia to the UN Mr. Sven Jürgenson
I express my gratitude to all humanitarian workers on the frontlines in Syria. I also thank both Under Secretary-General Lowcock and Mrs. Sirkin for their briefings.
It is promising to hear that the number of Covid-19 cases in Syria has not exploded – nevertheless, as we know and we heard again today, due to the lack of testing, the numbers are not telling us the whole story and the situation can still change rapidly in a matter of days. Most vulnerable to the virus are those people in overcrowded IDP camps across the country. Unimpeded access to these areas is crucial for an effective response to the Covid-19 outbreak and humanitarian needs.
Despite the initial containment of the virus, other problems remain. The potential withdrawal of the Russian Federation from the U.N. deconfliction arrangement is a worrying sign, as it increases the risk of escalation.
Disengagement from a peaceful solution, also reaffirms the findings of Secretary General’s Board of Inquiry, which clearly established, that the Syrian regime and its allies have deliberately attacked humanitarian locations around Idlib and elsewhere.
We condemn these attacks, and call Russia to resume its coordination with the U.N, and other parties on the ground under the deconfliction mechanism. Better to have ten years of negotiations, than one day of war – лучше 10 лет переговоров, чем один день войны.
Considering the challenges, Estonia supports all efforts of humanitarian penholders Belgium and Germany in renewing the cross-border mandate. It is clear, that both cross-line and cross-border modalities are required to reach all Syrians.
Council members also cannot overlook the acute need of aid in the Northeast of Syria. Compared to last year, only one third of facilities receive the necessary equipment and medicine. We need a durable solution. Reauthorizing Al-Yaroubiyah crossing for cross-border deliveries is the most effective answer, but other alternatives could be considered. We cannot ignore the suffering of people in that large area.
Finally, as long as the Syrian Government avoids taking responsibility and refuses to genuinely engage in the political process – economic sanctions of the European Union will remain in place. These measures are there to bring justice, and force the regime to choose peace over destroying their own country, as was so vividly just described by Ms. Sirkin.
This is also an imperative for the Fourth Brussels Conference on supporting the future of Syria, which started just today. We want to note that European Union and United States together contribute about 90 percent of U.N. funding to Syrians.