Remarks on the Brazil and Switzerland-Drafted UN Security Council Resolution Reauthorizing the UN Cross-Border Mechanism into Syria

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Thank you, Madam President. And thank you to the penholders.

In a few moments, we will vote on the penholders’ compromise resolution. And how we all vote will speak volumes. Supporting this resolution will extend humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people and ensure aid will not be cut off in the dead of winter.

But should any Member State oppose this resolution, it will be voting to shutter a critical humanitarian lifeline. Today, it is unconscionable that cross-border aid through the Bab al-Hawa is paused while humanitarians wait for the Council to act. And there is no time to waste. The Syrian people are counting on us.

People like Mohammed al-Fandi, who lives in a camp near the Syrian-Turkish border. When asked about the stakes of this vote, Mohammed said, “Closing the crossing to humanitarian aid means death by starvation for most camp residents.” Death by starvation. The stakes of this vote are quite literally life-or-death.

In a letter to this Council, 32 NGOs wrote: “If the Council fails to renew this mechanism, it will send a message to Syrians that the Council is willing to accept preventable additional suffering and loss of life on its watch.”

So often, the issues before this Council are contentious. And that’s to be expected. But this vote – this vote – should not be contentious or controversial. We know the cross-border mechanism allows food, and water, and medicine, and other essentials to reach 2.7 million people in Syria every single month. We know the cross-border mechanism is one of the most closely monitored and inspected crossings in the world. And I saw this firsthand during my two visits to Bab al-Hawa.

And we know the humanitarian situation in Syria has never been more dire. 12 years of war, and this year’s devastating earthquakes, have pushed the Syrian people to the brink. This is a moment to increase our support for vulnerable Syrians.

And so, following the earthquakes, we surged assistance to the region. The United States is the single largest humanitarian donor to the Syrian people. And we need others to step up and join us. Especially right now, as the UN humanitarian appeal for Syria remains grossly underfunded.

But let’s be clear: no amount of aid will meet the needs of the Syrian people if the aid cannot reach the Syrian people. The United States has lived up to our support for cross-line aid deliveries and early recovery efforts. But nothing can replace the scope and scale of cross-border aid. And after the earthquakes in February, which temporarily closed Bab Al-Hawa just as needs spiked, we saw how insufficient one border crossing point is.

For this reason, the United States along with humanitarian organizations and other Member States called for this resolution to expand the cross-border aid mechanism to include all three border crossing points currently in use:  Bab al-Hawa, Bab al-Salaam, and al-Rai.

Assad has reportedly told the UN and some Members of this Council that he is amenable to keeping these additional border crossings open beyond August 13th. But he has yet to make that commitment publicly or call for an extension of the mechanism. If the regime fails to follow through, we will bring this to the top of the Council’s agenda during our Security Council presidency in August. You have my word on that.

Colleagues, this text is a compromise. And in so many ways, it really is the bare minimum. This resolution falls short of what UN officials and humanitarian leaders called us to do. It falls short of what the needs on the ground require. The Secretary-General and NGOs on the ground urged this Council to extend the cross-border mechanism for 12 months.

The United States and the vast majority of Security Council members supported a 12-month extension. So, while we will support today’s compromise resolution, we know this resolution does not fully meet the needs of the moment. And going forward, we will continue to work with our partners to meet the immense needs of the Syrian people.

The bottom line is this: there is no legitimate or humanitarian justification for voting against this resolution. None whatsoever. We must extend this critical lifeline and we must ensure aid continues to reach the Syrian people during the cold winter months.

So, let’s put aside geopolitical gamesmanship. Let’s do the right thing, let’s do the humane thing, and let’s continue to provide life-saving assistance to the Syrian people. The United States will vote yes on this resolution, and we will encourage all Security Council members to do the same.

Thank you, Madam President.

Source : USUN