General Assembly Security Council

UNSC briefing/consultations on Syria (humanitarian)

(23 June 2021)


India statement delivered by Mr. Prakash Gupta,

Joint Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, India


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Let me begin by thanking Secretary General for his remarks. I also thank Acting USG Mr. Ramesh Rajasingham for his update on the humanitarian situation in Syria. I thank Ms Sherine Ibrahim of CARE for providing us with the insights into the challenges from the perspective of civil society.


2. As we hear these briefings regularly, it is abundantly clear that the decade long violence and terror has caused devastating impact on the lives of Syrians. More than 11 million people across Syria are in need of humanitarian assistance of one form or the other. Syrian women, children and elderly have been impacted in disproportionate ways. The displaced population and those who have chosen to return to their homes are facing a grim situation across Syria. The worsening exchange rate, increasing cost of food, and fuel shortages are affecting both the population and humanitarian operations as well. The presence of foreign forces and external support to armed groups is only making the situation worse.


3. The pandemic and the adverse impact of sanctions on the health facilities and humanitarian operations have further exacerbated the situation. Both the Secretary General and OCHA have repeatedly spoken about their impact on humanitarian operations. These measures need to be reviewed so as to ensure that the country’s capacity to access and absorb humanitarian assistance and medical support is not hindered.  We are encouraged by the ongoing technical dialogue between relevant Member States and humanitarian actors on this issue.


4. We have been calling for enhanced and effective humanitarian assistance to all Syrians throughout the country without discrimination, politicization or any preconditions. What we need immediately is an active engagement that is consistent with sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Syria and that addresses the urgency of the humanitarian issues to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people. We need concrete steps to address hurdles that are obstructing the functioning of both cross-border and crossline operations; especially as we are barely two weeks away from the mandate renewal deadline for the humanitarian aid mechanism Resolution.


5. While the Council’s attention is focused on mandate renewal, terrorist groups such as Hayat Tahri al-Sham and Islamic State in Iraq and Levant are attacking civilians, in rural Idlib and Hama and in the northeast of Syria. The infighting among armed groups in the region has continued to endanger civilians. The fighting along the frontlines in the northwest is threatening the lives of civilians and hospitals. India strongly condemns the attacks on 12 June on Al Shifaa Hospital in Afrin city in northern Syria.   


6. Moreover, we cannot turn a blind eye to the issue of presence of 8800 third country nationals, including women and children in Al-Hol camp. This issue needs to be addressed with all seriousness.


7. On the positive side, we are happy to note deliveries of vaccines from the COVAX facility to Syria, including in the North-West. The supplies from COVAX should cover around 1/5th of the population. Though grossly inadequate, it is still a vital first step to protect medical workers and those most vulnerable.


8. We note that some countries from Europe and the Middle East have started to re-establish their diplomatic presence in Syria. We welcome re-establishing formal channels of communication. This will help to bring the dire humanitarian situation into sharper focus, especially for the international donor community. We would also like to flag the need for undertaking rehabilitation and reconstruction measures as well.


9. On the bilateral front, India has extended developmental assistance and human resource development support to Syria through provision of lines of credit for industrial and infrastructure projects, supply of medicine and food, organization of artificial limb fitment camps and capacity building training programs.


10. To conclude, India reiterates its steadfast commitment to supporting the people of Syria in these difficult times.  I thank you Mr. President.


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