Remarks by Ambassador Zhang Jun at Security Council VTC on Syria
26 May 2021
I thank SESG Pedersen and USG Lowcock for their briefings. The Syrian crisis, which has lasted a decade, has led to worrisome security and humanitarian situation. The United Nations, its Security Council in particular, must step up efforts for an early end of the crisis, with a view to alleviating the sufferings of the Syrian people.
We must work tirelessly towards a political settlement to the Syrian issue. China supports the work of Special Envoy Pedersen in promoting the implementation of Council resolution 2254. We call upon all parties in Syria to maintain communication with the Special Envoy and advance the work of the Constitutional Committee on the basis of the existing consensus. The Constitutional Committee must work independently, free of external interference, in order to ensure that the political process in Syrian-led and Syrian-owned. China has noted that relevant activities relating to the general election in Syria, and calls on the international community to respect the sovereignty of Syria and the choice of its people.
We must keep improving the security situation in Syria, in the northwest and northeast parts of the country. The security situation has been turbulent recently with frequent terrorist attacks, as well as clashes and confrontation among armed groups. The operations of foreign troops and missile attacks against Syria have escalated tensions. China urges the parties concerned to respect in earnest Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and cease the illegal invasion and occupation of and attacks against Syria. Many Council members are concerned about terrorist activities within Syria and their spillover risks. The international community must work in synergy and jointly combat terrorism in Syria in accordance with international law and Security Council resolutions.
We must take comprehensive measures to address the challenges Syria is facing in economic, humanitarian and reconstruction sectors. The country is facing multiple challenges, the COVID-19 pandemic, food insecurity, currency depreciation, fuel shortages, inadequate and broken infrastructure, to name a few. The recent decreases in the water flow of the Euphrates River and the interference into the functioning of Alouk water station have threatened water and electricity supply and agricultural irrigation in that area. China urges the UN to scale up its food, vaccine, and medical assistance to Syria, and calls on all parties to the conflict to protect civilians and cease disruptive acts against civilian infrastructure. With unilateral sanctions in place, assistance funds cannot reach the territory of Syria, resulting in tremendous difficulties to the country in repairing and rebuilding its infrastructure such as schools, hospitals and power plants. Syria cannot even purchase the most basic parts and components or equipment. The so-called humanitarian exemptions are nothing but an empty shell. Some people are calling for humanitarian assistance on the one hand, and on the other hand, they are using it as a political tool and impose unilateral sanctions. This is pure hypocrisy and will not fundamentally alleviate the humanitarian situation in Syria at all. Unilateral sanctions have become a block to Syria's reconstruction efforts, and therefore must be lifted immediately so as to restore infrastructure and enable basic services for the Syrian people.
We must ensure transparency and non-politicization throughout the process of humanitarian relief operations in Syria. The UN cross-border transportation of humanitarian supplies into Syria must be under strict monitoring and supervision, to prevent any non-humanitarian supplies from entering Syria. Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity must be respected, and the role of the Syrian government leveraged. The United Nations shall take cross-line humanitarian relief as its priority, actively push the parties concerned to eliminate hostility and build trust, seek a feasible cross-line plan and open up a transportation route from Damascus to northwest Syria through joint actions of the Red Crescent in different areas of control. I have listened to USG Lowcock’s briefing. He said that efforts are being made in this regard. I have also learned that the relevant humanitarian agencies are exploring this path in this direction. I believe that as long as we work together, this plan is a feasible one and can be achieved. Assistance to Syria must observe the humanitarian principles of neutrality, impartiality and independence, free of any political conditions.
I wish to emphasize once again that the future of Syria is in the hands of the Syrian people. China sincerely hopes that the Syrian people can dispel the clouds of war and restore peace and stability as soon as possible. To that end, we will continue to play a constructive role.