UNSC needs to introspect about the cost of its ‘actions and inactions’ on Syria: India

United Nations, Mar 30 (PTI) The UN Security Council needs to introspect about the cost of its “actions and inactions” on Syria, India has said, emphasising that the powerful organ of the world body cannot afford to be “unmoved” on the urgent need to build consensus and work collectively to end the sufferings of the people in the war-torn country.

Speaking at the Security Council briefing on Syria, chaired by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador T S Tirumurti on Monday said the last decade has largely been lost for the Syrians, particularly for the children and youth, who have not been seeing anything but violence and conflict since 2011.

“This suffering should certainly move the Council members, Tirumurti said, asserting that the Council needs to introspect about the cost of its actions and inactions.

There is an urgent need to build consensus on the humanitarian situation and collectively work to ameliorate the sufferings of people in Syria. We cannot afford to be unmoved, he said.

Blinken said the members of the Security Council have a job to do. Reauthorise all three border crossings for humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people. Stop taking part in or making excuses for attacks that close these pathways, and stop targeting humanitarian aid workers and the Syrian civilians they are trying to help. Stop making humanitarian assistance, on which millions of Syrians’ lives depend, a political issue, waiting in hope for the Security Council.

He added that the lives of the Syrian people, “depend on us getting urgent help. We have to do everything in our power, to create ways for that aid to get to them, to open pathways, not to close them.”

Tirumurti added that the decade-long conflict has had a devastating effect on the people of Syria.

Expressing deep concern over the alarming statistics, he said an estimated half-million people have died, millions have been displaced, both internally and externally, the health infrastructure has collapsed, and children have been deprived of basic education. Women, children and youth have especially been deeply impacted. The COVID-19 pandemic has further aggravated the humanitarian situation.

Tirumurti underlined that given the scale, severity and complexity of humanitarian needs, those who advocate linking humanitarian assistance to the political track should revisit the matter immediately.

The politicisation of the humanitarian track does not help anyone, least of all the millions of suffering Syrians, he said. What we need immediately is an engagement that is both consistent with Syrian independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty as well as addresses the urgency of the humanitarian issues to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people.

He emphasised that concrete steps need to be taken to address hurdles that are obstructing the functioning of both cross-border and cross-line operations, in particular, the delays in granting requisite approvals to humanitarian aid convoys.

Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock warned that now is not the moment to reduce humanitarian aid to Syria. There is need for more money, not less, if we are to avoid a further deterioration the consequences of which could be dramatic and widespread.

Our ability to deliver aid and stave off an even worse situation for millions of civilians will depend on the political will and financial generosity of the international community, including the countries represented in this Council, he said.

Tirumurti noted that the recent flare-up of hostilities in north-west Syria on March 21 is a reminder of the serious impediments to international efforts.

India strongly condemned the attack on the surgical hospital in Al Atareb that resulted in the killing of innocent civilians.

We have equally underlined that we cannot allow terrorists to take any further advantage of the situation and the Council should speak in one voice on terrorism. Let us not lose sight to the need to resolutely combat terrorists and terrorist groups, he said.

The UN will be co-hosting the Brussels V Conference in support of Syria and neighbouring countries affected by the crisis Tuesday. India welcomed the conference, saying it remains convinced that efforts towards improving the humanitarian situation in Syria will positively impact the political track as well.

Tirumurti told the Council meeting that India has already extended immediate medical assistance and food assistance to Syria recently, in addition to the development cooperation projects, including USD 265 million in soft loans.

An artificial limb fitment camp of the well-known Jaipur Foot of the Jaipur-based Bhagwan Mahaveer Viklang Sahayata Samiti (BMVSS), conducted in Damascus, benefited over 500 Syrians affected by the conflict.

We had undertaken this Jaipur Foot initiative under the rubric of India For Humanity’. We certainly need humanity now more than ever on the humanitarian crisis facing Syria Tirumurti said.