Thank you, Mr. President,
First, we want to thank Under Secretary-General Mark Lowcock for his very thorough briefing on the difficult humanitarian situation in Syria.
We remain gravely concerned about the developments in North-West of Syria. The military operations – carried out by the Syrian army, and supported by the Russian Federation – have unleashed a mass exodus.
According to OCHA, over past two months more than 350 000 people have left their homes from the Southern parts of Idlib. Most of them are now heading towards the Turkish border.
Turkey is already the largest host country for Syrian refugees with over 3.6 million Syrians residing there. As the Syrian government consistently violates former ceasefire and de-escalation agreements, the pressure of displaced people will only grow further.
Taking into account these concerns – Estonia joins the humanitarian co-penholders Belgium and Germany in their calls for an establishment of an emergency humanitarian ceasefire in Idlib, and across Syria. Fight against terrorism should not lead to the violation of human rights and dignity.
Regarding the situation in the Northeast of Syria. Initial reporting by OCHA indicates that there are serious concerns about the potential lack of health supplies in the area, after the closure of the Al-Yaroubiah crossing earlier this month.
Besides scarce aid, one of the immediate results of the closure of Al-Yaroubiah has been that the humanitarian organizations increasingly look to work through local partner networks.
Essentially, if earlier the UN and Security Council had more control over the movement of aid and goods into Syria, then now this is decreasing. The help will always find the most direct way to those in need – the only difference being now, that we have less information about it.
The challenges of the Northeast are most visible in the Al-Hol camp, where recent winter floods have caused substantial damages. Close to 3000 tents had to be replaced in the aftermath of these heavy rains in recent months.
Worsening living conditions have led to new tensions. These are highlighted by the fact, that only in January, two murders and three kidnapping attempts of children were reported in the Al-Hol camp.
Similar issues apply to the Southern parts of Syria, despite getting less media attention. Waves of assassinations and kidnappings threaten with renewed violence in the area.
Finally, the solution to the Syrian crisis has already been well-articulated in the resolution 2254. Nation-wide ceasefire, followed with a meaningful political process – these steps would enable the international community to engage with the Syrian authorities, and bring on reconstruction of the country full swing.
Unfortunately, this roadmap to peace remains neglected by those in power in Damascus.
I thank you Mr. President