Statement by the delegation of Ukraine at the UNSC meeting on the situation in Syria

Statement by the delegation of Ukraine at the UNSC meeting on the situation in Syria

As prepared. Check against delivery

I want to thank the US Presidency for organizing today’s meeting. Let me also join my colleagues and thank Stephen O’Brien for his briefing.

Syria continues to suffer from this terrible 6th-year long war. The war that has left unhealing scar marks on the Syrian people and has presented an immense challenge to the entire world.

Madam President,

It is clear from the Secretary General’s report and Stephen’s briefing that negative trends in the humanitarian domain are piling up.

Though March was somewhat a better month in terms of the UN humanitarian access, we need to bear in mind that progress is limited mostly to the hard-to-reach areas, while the besieged ones, where more than 600 thousand people live, need assistance the most.

This Council has spoken time and again that the sieges must be lifted, that the access must be granted and upheld in a sustainable manner. Yet, here we are. Practically no progress. And the reason is simple enough. Keeping the sieges is deliberate tactics of the Assad regime and his allies that supplements and feeds his military strategy. The essence of this tactics is “Starve or surrender; when you surrender, we are going to put you on the bus and send to Idlib, where we will continue to bomb you again and again”.

We are dismayed about recent reports of Syrian or Russian airstrikes on a hospital in the rebel-held Idlib province on April 25 that killed more than a dozen of people, including patients.

The recent terrorist attack against evacuees carried by buses from the besieged towns in Syria, which led to the death of more than a hundred people including children, is another terrible crime and a demonstration of shameless disregard for human life which we have seen now so often throughout the conflict.

We strongly condemn the continuing violence against the civilian population in Syria, which has suffered immensely during this brutal war.

Madam President,

The situation in eastern Ghouta, where approximately 400,000 people are besieged in a number of towns and surrounding rural areas, is particularly worrisome. There are no functioning hospitals left in Eastern Ghouta — none out of 3 public hospitals and 17 health care centers. Hitting medical facilities and schools — is also part of the aforementioned deliberate tactics of the Assad regime and his allies. In March only, the UN received credible reports of 19 attacks against medical facilities.

Madam President,

Such a reckless and deliberate strategy carries fundamental risks for the long-term stability not only of Syria and Levant, but of the entire MENA region. The sixth year of war has 1.75 mln children out of school, 85 % of Syrians living in poverty, 7 thousand schools destroyed.

As long as there is no progress on this and other humanitarian issues, we can rest assured that Assad regime is in no mood to seriously engage in political talks.

Against this backdrop, there is still an active and aggressive Al-Qaida and ISIS recruitment campaign in Syria. Leaving Syrians without hope any longer equals creating a long-term terrorist safe heaven at the very heart of the region.

The stakes are really high. There is no more time for imitating the talks and following subversive strategies. Serious and responsible political engagement in Geneva and immediate humanitarian relief efforts are long past due.

Thank you, Madam President