Belgian intervention - UN Security Council
Intervention UNSC - Belgium
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I will now make an intervention in my national capacity.
I would like to start with a tribute to all the humanitarian workers in Syria, especially those who provide support to the North-West of the country.
Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis in 2011, Belgium has provided more than 230 million euro to alleviate the humanitarian needs of the Syrian population. We intend to approve an additional 14 million euro of humanitarian aid to the Syrian people via the cross-border pooled fund and the Syrian humanitarian fund.
I would like to focus my remarks on two points: (1) the situation in Idlib and (2) the question of humanitarian access.
1. The situation in Idlib
This Council has the mandate – and the responsibility – to maintain peace and international security. The situation in Idlib requires the full attention of this Council. I support the Secretary General in his call for an immediate and sustainable cease-fire. We call on all parties concerned to show a maximum level of restraint.
The frontlines have progressed towards the most densely populated areas. All humanitarian action risks to get suffocated. Moreover, the direct confrontation between Turkey, on the one hand, and Syria and Russia, on the other hand, constitutes a dangerous escalation that could lead to unpredictable consequences.
Belgium repeats its unequivocal condemnation of the attacks perpetrated by terrorist groups designated by this Council. But efforts to fight against terrorism never discharge parties from their obligations under international humanitarian law.
These grave violations of international humanitarian law cannot stay unpunished. I want to reiterate the political and financial support of Belgium to the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism for Syria. We also fully support the Board of Inquiry.
2. The question of humanitarian access
Since 2014, the humanitarian needs in Syria have all but decreased, well on the contrary. Regrettably, no agreement was reached in January to renew the crossing point of Yarubiyah, which offered access to the people in need in the North East through the most direct route, and in accordance with the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence.
We thank the Secretary General for his report on the alternative modalities for this border crossing.
The report shows clearly that this gap will be hard to fill. It offers two venues.
1/ On the one hand it clearly states that cross-line access can only work if four conditions are fulfilled. In view of the past experiences, the international community needs verifiable, unquestionable guarantees that the Syrian authorities will implement the conditions as outlined by Mrs. Mueller / in the report in full and without delay.
The UN needs to monitor this closely and deliver full and detailed data that should allow the Security Council to fully understand the implementation of those conditions, and specifically, where gaps in humanitarian access remain. The Syrian authorities’ track record on humanitarian access leaves room to much question. Their good faith will be systematically evaluated on the full and durable implementation of these conditions - A partial, or conditional implementation is inacceptable.
2/ The second venue mentioned in the report is the crossing point of Tal Abyad as the most feasible alternative to the Yarubiyah crossing, when it comes to cross-border options. As such, this option must be actively considered by all Council Members, in conjunction with the necessary prerequisites and guarantees.
The co-penholders will, as mentioned before, continue to see how best to take the options outlined in the report forward. Our focus must be access to humanitarian aid for all those in need.
Today, more then ever, is time for action.