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Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to make the following statement today on behalf of the four EU Members of the Security Council Belgium, Estonia, France and Germany, and Poland, as former EU member of the Security Council:
We are deeply alarmed by the ongoing military escalation in northwest Syria that has displaced more than 800,000 people since December 1st. This is one of the worst man-made displacements that we have seen anywhere in the world in years. And it has been and continues to be entirely avoidable.
Millions of civilians remain trapped in the area, the vast majority of whom are women and children. They are facing harsh winter conditions without being able to cover basic needs for shelter, water, food and healthcare.
The UN describes the already dramatic humanitarian situation in Idlib as the biggest humanitarian catastrophe since the beginning of the Syrian conflict.
Attacks continue to include civilian targets in densely populated areas, medical facilities and settlements for internally displaced people. These attacks must stop immediately. More than 1,700 civilians were killed since April 2019.
Deliberate strikes against civilians and civilian infrastructure such as medical facilities or schools are outrageous and a blatant violation of international law, not to speak of the basic principles of humanity.
The persons responsible for these violations must be held accountable. We demand that the parties, especially the Syrian regime and its allies, immediately end their military offensive, establish a genuine and lasting ceasefire, guarantee the protection of civilians and fully adhere to international humanitarian law. We call for a sustainable ceasefire and call upon the UN and the Special Envoy in particular to spare no efforts in this regard.
We urge all parties to the conflict to allow unimpeded humanitarian access to people in need of assistance and to respect the rules and obligations of international humanitarian law, including the protection of civilians.
There can be no sustainable military solution to the Syrian conflict.
Sustainable peace, stability and security in Syria can only be achieved through a political settlement under the auspices of the UN, in line with Security Council resolution 2254 and the Geneva Communique of 2012.