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22 February 2014 - Security Council - Syria / Humanitarian access resolution - Statement by Mr. Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

I welcome the unanimous adoption of this resolution on humanitarian acccess in Syria resolution 2139 (2014). Given the tragedy taking place, which has been escalating daily for three years, the contrary would have been incomprehensible. How could the Council have remained silent in the face of 140,000 people losing their lives or 3 million Syrians without humanitarian assistance and the desperate flight of nearly half the population, who are now refugees or displaced?

The resolution was urgent and necessary. That is why from the beginning France supported the draft text initiated by Australia, Jordan and Luxembourg, to whom we express our gratitude. This urgent resolution demands that the Government of Syria, carried away by its own violence, respect international humanitarian law and stop bombing civilians, starving its people and torturing prisoners. It demands the immediate lifting of sieges. It demands that the Government authorize humanitarian organizations to help all those in need across the front lines and borders. It demands an end to attacks on United Nations personnel, humanitarian actors and journalists.

This crucial resolution must put an end to the deafness of the Syrian Government to the appeal by humanitarian actors and the Council, which on 2 October made specific demands for the provision of humanitarian access. We must all admit — and that is the reason for the resolution — that the presidential statement (S/PRST/2013/15) did not produce tangible results. Far from reaching all those in need throughout Syria, humanitarian assistance remains inaccessible in besieged areas and sporadic in areas that are difficult to reach.

The Syrian regime is trying to make us believe that it is a reliable and responsible partner in the humanitarian sphere. The examples of evacuations from Moadamiya and Homs a few weeks ago show us the opposite. Far from being ideal, they were slow in implementation, limited in effect and tragic in their follow-up. Many of those evacuated were arrested and are still missing. For some days, the Government has stepped up media reports of local ceasefires. Let us not be deceived: such ceasefires are imposed on scared, exhausted and starving people as part of a deliberate policy pursued by the Government for people to starve to death or surrender. At the same time, the Syrian Government is using increasingly barbarian and deadly bombs against the civilian population. After the cluster bombs, ballistic missiles and chemical weapons, the authorities are now launching barrel bombs against civilians — the ultimate weapon of terror. The use of such weapons is not a detail, as some people have said. They have no military justification. They seek only to kill civilians and combatants indiscriminately. For the thousands of civilians who die as a result of those bombs and for the hundreds of thousands of civilians who flee terrorized, it is not a detail. France welcomes the courage and determination of the Syrian people. We cannot abandon them in the hands of those torturers.

With the adoption of this resolution, the Security Council avoids the dishonour of silence. It is now up to us collectively to ensure that the parties to the conflict, in particular the regime, heed the strong and urgent message conveyed to it and translate the Council’s requests into specific actions. I wish to underscore the intention expressed by the Council to adopt additional measures if the resolution is not implemented. We will therefore return to the Chamber in 30 days to hear the report of the Secretary-General and, if the Syrian Government remains deaf to our demands, we should take the necessary measures. France will not forget about the meeting.

The humanitarian suffering can be resolved only by means of a political transition. We cannot accept an end without follow-up to the discussions in Geneva. There again, it is the Syrian regime that bears the responsibility for the failure by refusing the agenda for the talks proposed by Mr. Brahimi and accepted by the opposition. It is up to us to show collectively the same urgency and resolve. France will continue to stand beside the Syrian people. Criminals should pay for their crimes.

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Organisation des Nations Unies Présidence de la République France Diplomatie La France à l'Office des Nations Unies à Genève Union Européenne Première réunion de l'ONU