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Remarks by Ambassador Zhang Jun at Security Council VTC Meeting on Syria (Humanitarian)

(From Chinese Mission to the United Nations)

2020/06/29

Mr. President,

I thank USG Mr. Lowcock for his briefing, and welcome Syrian ambassador and Turkish ambassador to this meeting. I also listened carefully to the remarks of Ms. Sirkin.

China has growing concern over the economic and humanitarian situation in Syria. We are deeply worried about the suffering of civilians across the country. In the latest report, the Secretary-General also shared his deep concern over the accelerating economic decline and its impact on the prices of essentials for the Syrian people.

Since June last year, there has been 200% increase in food prices. The Syrian Pound reached its lowest point on record against the US Dollar. WFP (World Food Program) estimated that 9.3 million people are food insecure in Syria. COVID-19 pandemic brings further challenge. The big picture of Syrian humanitarian situation is gloomy.

The prominent factor causing economic and humanitarian crisis in Syria is unilateral sanctions. The Secretary-General has made distinct appeal for the waiving of sanctions that undermine countries' capacity to respond to the pandemic. The Special Envoy as well as the High Commissioner for Human Rights echoed this global appeal.

Regional countries also voiced their concern over sanctions on Syria, holding that such sanctions have already affected the economy of the region. We once again strongly urge relevant countries to lift these sanctions.

There have been rich and convincing research and analysis, including those by OCHA, on how sanctions cause humanitarian consequences. For example, sanctions and economic blockade lead to increased unemployment, and further result in reduced household income of workers and reduced nutrition intake for workers' dependents. We call on OCHA to pay more attention on the negative impact of sanctions on the humanitarian situations in Syria and other countries, and update the Security Council with comprehensive review in this regard.

As we have stated repeatedly, the Syrian Government bears the primary responsibility to improve the humanitarian situation in Syria, including preventing and containing the spread of COVID-19. Its role cannot be replaced.

We are glad to learn about the progress in cross-line humanitarian operations. In May, WHO dispatched an overland delivery of medical supplies to the north-east from Latakia, apart from deliveries continued by air. UN agencies and relevant parties should put more focus on removing the obstacles in cross-line operations, and work with the Syrian Government to use crossing points within its control and with its consent.

With regard to cross-border humanitarian assistance, we take note that there are still needs for such operations in Syria, while relevant parties have different positions on the cross-border mechanism. We believe that any decision of the Security Council must show respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria. We are willing to maintain communication with fellow Council members on this issue.

Taking this opportunity, I would also like to express appreciation to the humanitarian workers who are delivering services to the people in need, following the guiding principles of humanitarian emergency assistance as set out in GA resolution 46/182.

Concerning the security situation, China supports the ceasefire appeals made by the SG and his Special Envoy, and calls on all parties to use this opportunity to enhance political dialogue and mutual trust.

Meanwhile, we should keep alerted that armed groups and terrorists are seeking advantage of this period to escalate attacks, as accounted in the SG report. Effective, cooperative and targeted counter-terrorism efforts must be put in place.

Last but not least, let me reiterate China's firm position of supporting the "Syrian-led, Syrian-owned" political process, while fully respecting the sovereignty, independence, unity, and territorial integrity of Syria.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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