Statement by Ambassador James Kariuki, UK Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, at the UN Security Council meeting on Syria.

I want to underline the critical importance of sustainable and effective aid access into Syria. Needs are higher than ever. Humanitarian organisations must be able to deliver lifesaving assistance through the most efficient and effective means, in line with the humanitarian principles.

In less than 20 days time, the current authorization for the UN to use the Bab Al Hawa border crossing will again expire. The cross-border response is a lifeline for 4.2 million Syrians in the North-West of Syria in need of urgent assistance. We have heard time and time again from humanitarians, including in this Council, that it provides the most efficient, effective, predictable route to people in need. We call for access to be granted for as long as is needed, without arbitrary deadlines and without conditions, in line with international humanitarian law.

Second, the impact of Syria’s conflict extends beyond its borders. In light of World Refugee Day last week, I want to recognise the devastating reality for many Syrians who currently cannot return home, as well as the ongoing generosity of the Governments of Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey in hosting Syrian refugees. The sad reality is that Syrians are still fleeing the country, whether due to violence or the desperate humanitarian situation.

Our hope is that one day, Syrian refugees will be able to voluntarily return home. However, the actions of the Assad regime have so far meant they are unable to do so. A report released last week highlighted that more than 4,700 returnees were detained by regime forces since 2014. If returning refugees are not safe, others will not return. 

Third, progress on the political process is essential. The enduring humanitarian crisis and continued displacement of Syrians will only be resolved through a comprehensive political settlement in line with Security Council resolution 2254.

This month, the Syrian opposition demonstrated their commitment to 2254 during their annual conference, and civil society organisations have continued to offer creative solutions in overcoming the current impasse. We call on the regime to also engage constructively with the UN-facilitated political process, which remains the only viable route to lasting peace in Syria.

Published 25 June 2024