Remarks by Ambassador Christoph Heusgen during the Security Council Meeting on Syria (political) - February 19, 2020

19.02.2020 - Speech

(check against delivery)

Let me add one quote, or a couple of quotes to those already recited. Actually, Mark Lowcock himself in his declaration on the 17th of February, said, “if things continue as they do, we are faced with the biggest humanitarian horror story of the 21st century.”

Looking at the pattern on the ground where it appears that the Syrian Regime, supported by Russia and other allies, are primarily targeting areas where a high number of displaced persons have sought shelter.

To quote Michelle Bachelet: “it is cruel beyond belief that civilians living in freezing conditions are being bombed.”

So the situation is as bad as it is. We can only support the Secretary General of the United Nations who has called for an immediate ceasefire. I would echo actually what the US Ambassador has just said: basically, the Astana formula doesn't work anymore and the UN has to step in. I can only support what Geir Pederson has said and what he's doing. But I think also now it's time also for the Secretary General also to step up to the plate. We have an immense responsibility that we face here as the United Nations, as the Security Council to stop what is what is happening. We must spare no effort.

We are also concerned about the escalation around the Turkish observation force. And we demand that the Syrian regime stop its attacks against Turkish forces and we call for an immediate return to a de-escalation.

We always say that when it comes to a problem, there is no military solution to a problem to achieve sustainable stability. I think we are here confronted with a situation where Syria, Russia and other allies are trying to prove the opposite: that there is a military solution, that you can actually get back under control the territory of one's country by driving out already one million, probably overall in this area we have 3 million people. And the attacks are continuing. So this has to be stopped if we don't want to end up with the biggest humanitarian horror story of the 21st century.

There may be a situation if this continues that we have soon more Syrians living outside of the country than inside. And those who are who are left there are left in a country that is morally and physically totally destroyed. In our view, for a peaceful Syria, there is no alternative but to go to a political process, to have the constitutional committee work, to have reconciliation in the country, to have also accountability for the crimes that have been committed.

We will have, by the way, this afternoon the commission of inquiry in the Arria Formula a meeting, which will focus on violations of children's rights during the Syrian conflict and offer recommendations to all parties to the conflict on steps forward. So this is a way forward.

Let's go back where this all started. It was first and foremost the Syrian Regime's policy of brutal violence, repression, persecution that caused this conflict and this is still keeping Syrian IDPs and refugees from returning home. We all know about the arbitrary arrests, torture, sexual violence, enforced disappearance, extrajudicial killings of detainees and other grave human rights violations which are of the origins of this conflict. I can only end with a plea to our Russian colleague to stop the support of Syria. If you tell the Syrians that there is no longer military support to the Syrian Regime, they will have to stop the onslaught on their own population.

Thank you.

Top of page