Extending the cross-border mandate in Syria for 12 months is a moral and humanitarian imperative: UK statement at the Security Council

Thank you, President, and I too thank Deputy Special Envoy Rochdi and USG Griffiths for their valuable briefings.

Colleagues, as we’ve heard, needs are at their highest levels ever in Syria. As the 12-year conflict continues, the UK has continued to respond to humanitarian needs. Our pledge of $190 million in Brussels brings our total to over $4.8 billion to date.

Last year, this also included $64 million for early recovery, including irrigation facility rehabilitation, agricultural training, apprenticeships and business grants. In all, 495 early recovery projects across all 14 governorates of Syria.

I look forward to Russia announcing its contribution in due course. Following the recent announcement that Russia spends $2 billion a year on the Wagner Group.

And as this 12-year conflict continues, we see three ways in which this Council can respond to support the Syrian people.

First, as we’ve heard, we need to ensure predictable and sustained humanitarian access to 4.1 million people in North-West Syria.

When I visited the Türkiye-Syria border earlier this month, frontline humanitarians, the UN, NGOs and local authorities told me consistently and repeatedly they needed more access, for longer of periods of time. We welcome the progress of a cross-line convoy last week – the first since January – but nothing can replace the scale and scope of the indispensable cross-border operation. I saw this myself. 60 trucks filled with lifesaving supplies crossed the border on the day of my visit alone.

As USG Griffiths reminded us, the Secretary-General has repeatedly stated that the extension of the Security Council’s cross-border authorisation for at least 12 months is a ‘moral and humanitarian imperative’ and has underlined that all three crossings, at Bab Al Hawa, Bab Al Salam, and Al Rai, are ‘essential’ for an effective UN response. And the UN have repeatedly set out the value that the certainty and predictability of a Council mandate provides – including for donors. This is why we join calls on this Council to extend and expand the Council’s cross-border authorisation ahead of 10 July.

Let’s be clear, this is not a maximalist approach, this is a humanitarian approach.
Secondly, attacks on innocent Syrians must stop and there should be a nationwide ceasefire.

Indiscriminate airstrikes on a vegetable market in Idlib this week, which the Syrian authorities have confirmed Russia were involved in, are reported to have killed 9 civilians and injured many more.

Our condolences go to their families, and our sympathy and good wishes to those who have been injured.

This shows a total disregard for the welfare of the Syrian people. We call on all parties to abide by international humanitarian law and to protect the civilian population.

Finally, President, colleagues, we know that only a sustainable and inclusive peace can end the suffering of the Syrian people and bring stability to the region.

Security Council resolution 2254 is the framework to deliver this. We welcome all efforts that contribute to delivering on its promise.

We call on the regime to meaningfully engage in this process to deliver a lasting peace for Syria.

As Special Envoy Rochdi said, ‘real diplomacy and real solutions.’

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