Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
January 9, 2023
Thank you, Mr. President. And as this is my first meeting of the Council this year, I would like to welcome Japan as President and also welcome all of the new members of the Council.
The United States welcomes the unanimous adoption of this resolution on the cross-border humanitarian assistance delivery mechanism. We applaud Brazil and Switzerland, as well as Ireland and Norway, for their persistent efforts to make this possible. I also want to extend my heartfelt thanks to the UN officials and aid workers for all they do – day in and day out – to fully implement this resolution and address the dire needs on the ground.
Today, in extending the cross-border mechanism, we have ensured that food, water, shelter, and other critical humanitarian assistance will continue to reach the Syrian people. We have ensured that shipments of medical equipment and treatments will not be cut off from a country facing a horrific cholera outbreak. And we have ensured that the humanitarian workers I met with during my two trips to the Bab al-Hawa border crossing will continue to do their heroic work.
Today’s vote allows the Syrian people to breathe a sigh of relief. But while this lifeline will continue to operate, so much more could have been done. And so much more still needs to be done.
Colleagues, in July of last year, this Council was unable to extend this mandate for a straightforward 12 months. As a result, it has been harder and more costly for aid workers to procure, hire, and plan. And it has hindered the selection and implementation of early recovery projects, which some critics of this mechanism claim to want. A 12-month extension is needed for the UN, and it is needed for our humanitarian partners and for recipients.
So, while it is important that this Council came together today, let’s be honest with ourselves: This resolution represents the bare minimum. In fact, renewing this resolution should never have been a subject of debate. The debate we need to have is how to strengthen the mechanism to reach more people with more assistance.
In the coming months, we must show the Syrian people that we will continue to put their humanity first; that we will do everything in our power to increase predictable access to those in need. Because right now, needs across all of Syria, from the northwest to the northeast, in all 14 governorates of Syria, are greater than they have ever been. The UN has stated that 15.3 million people will need assistance in 2023 – that’s a five percent increase from last year. The vast majority of those in need are women and children.
If we’re going to meet this moment, we must back up our words with action and, more specifically, with adequate funding. And that’s why we have long called on the international community to provide generous support to the Syrian* humanitarian appeal for the Syrian people. Yet, the UN response plans for vulnerable people inside Syria – and Syrian refugees and their host communities – are badly underfunded.
We encourage those countries that criticize this lack of funding to step up and help ease the suffering of the Syrian people. For our part, the United States is proud to be the leading donor to both response plans. Even as humanitarian needs around the world have spiked, our commitment to the Syrian people is unwavering.
Still, we know the Syrian people will not be able to enjoy full peace, security, and dignity they deserve until this conflict is over. And to that end, we call for an immediate nationwide ceasefire and meaningful engagement in an inclusive political process in line with Security Council Resolution 2254. The United States will not support Assad regime-led reconstruction until there is lasting progress on a political solution to the conflict.
We once again urge the Assad regime to do what is necessary – after so many years and after so much violence – to end this brutal war and work towards a just and sustainable peace.
Thank you, Mr. President.