Estonia´s Statement at the UN Security Council VTC meeting on Syria (humanitarian)

Delivered by the Deputy Permanent Representative of Estonia to the UN Mr. Gert Auväärt

We thank Acting Assistant Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs Mr. Rajasingham for his briefing. We also extend gratitude to OCHA and UN humanitarian workers, who currently provide aid to 7.2 million people inside Syria.

Unfortunately, widespread instability continues to undermine this tremendous humanitarian response. According to Secretary General’s report – violations of the Idlib ceasefire agreement have increased, and extremist armed groups keep targeting Turkish-Russian joint patrols.

Further, regime held areas in the Southern parts of Syria still suffer from continued kidnappings and repressions. Estonia demands the release of all arbitrarily detained people, especially women and children.

The fragile security situation is coupled with the outbreak of Covid-19.  Across Syria, at least two and a half thousand people have been infected with the virus. As testing remains low; the actual number of infections is probably much higher.

It is worth noting that Covid-19 has already directly affected Syrian political process, as Constitutional Committee talks were postponed, after three cases where diagnosed in Geneva earlier this week among Committee’s members.

At the same time, inside Syria, most vulnerable to the virus are those people in overcrowded IDP camps. Estonia requests all parties to allow unimpeded humanitarian access to these areas.

Mr. President – answering to our Russian and Chinese colleagues on the issue of sanctions. I repeat here once again – there is absolutely no evidence on European Union sanctions hindering humanitarian response in Syria. Food, essential goods, and medical supplies are not subject to EU restrictive measures; these sanctions only target specific individuals, who support the Syrian regime.

As such, after nine years of war, the Syrian regime bears primary responsibility for the deteriorating humanitarian situation. Findings of Secretary General’s Board of Inquiry implied this earlier this year, similarly with other independent investigations throughout this well-documented long war.