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A record 16.7 million Syrians in need of humanitarian assistance: UK statement at the UN Security Council

Thank you, President, and I also would like to thank UN Special Envoy Geir Pedersen, OCHA Director Ramesh Rajasingham, and Helen Hayford for your briefings today.
In response, I’d like to make three points:
First, with a record 16.7 million Syrians in need of humanitarian assistance, effective and sustainable access is a priority. Cross-border aid is a lifeline for over 4 million of these people. So we reiterate our call for the Assad regime to extend consent for cross-border aid access at Bab Al Salam, Bab Al Rai and Bab Al Hawa, without conditions and without arbitrary time limits, and for as long as humanitarian needs demand. Cross-line assistance is important, but it cannot match the scale of the cross-border operation.
Second, women and girls have a critical role to play in Syria’s future. It is important that we keep this front and centre of this Council’s approach to achieving peace and stability in Syria. This includes supporting the efforts of Syrian women’s civil society organisations, human rights defenders, and supporting the participation of women in the political process. This is particularly important given the disproportionate impact of the conflict on women, including the challenge of conflict-related sexual violence.
The UK’s five-year, $67 million programme, ‘Building Local Resilience in Syria’, is enabling the delivery of three groundbreaking programmes supporting women in the labour market and tackling gender-based violence.
Third, we remain steadfast in our support of host countries to manage refugee communities and ensure that refugees’ rights are protected. These refugees are prevented from returning home by the actions of the Assad regime. As UNHCR state: Syria is not yet an environment for safe, dignified and voluntary refugee returns.
Finally, at a fragile moment in the region, we urge the regime to ensure that Syria does not contribute further to regional instability. And to instead refocus their efforts on meaningful engagement towards a political settlement that can guarantee the long-term stability that Syrians deserve in line with UNSCR 2254.

We urge all members of the Constitutional Committee to agree a location and convene the ninth meeting of the Committee as soon as possible to progress this effort.
I, thank you.

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