Ambassador Kelly Craft
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
July 11, 2020
AS SUBMITTED FOR THE RECORD
For weeks this Council has struggled to come to terms with the efforts of two of its members to end cross-border humanitarian aid to the Syrian people. Good faith negotiations were met with intransigence and contempt, and resolutions repeatedly faced inexplicable veto. But today, the Council showed that resolve and unity is a powerful combination.
Today, the UN Security Council worked on behalf of the very people the Charter set out to protect. The United States thanks co-penholders Belgium and Germany for their responsible stewardship of this negotiation, and once again thanks all of those Council members who stood up for what was right. Today, we saved lives.
Let’s not be mistaken, this resolution is not what the United States and a majority of this Council fought for over the course of the past six weeks – and indeed, for the past six months. This resolution is also not what the United Nations, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, and dozens of NGOs operating in Syria have repeatedly urged this Council to do.
But the United States and the majority of this Council remained determined through nine rounds of voting this week to ensure that UN aid convoys will continue to cross into Syria from Turkey filled with food, vaccines, and other humanitarian items for another year. We have given reassurance and hope to millions of Syrian civilians who have relied on the UN aid mechanism since cross-border operations started in 2014.
To be clear, today’s outcome leaves us sickened and outraged at the loss of the Bab al-Salaam and al-Yaroubia border crossings. Behind those locked gates are millions of women, children, and men who believed that the world had heard their pleas. Their health and welfare are now at great risk.
Yet there is no question that the Council’s authorization of cross-border humanitarian access through Bab al-Hawa for 12 months is a victory in light of the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China’s willingness to use their veto to compel a dramatic reduction in humanitarian assistance. This solemn victory must not end our struggle to address the mounting human needs in Syria – that fight is far from over.
We fully recognize that the Assad regime has not yet demonstrated that it is ready to end the war against you, the Syrian people. Until the Assad regime and its backers take the necessary and irreversible steps to implement the political solution necessary to end this conflict as outlined in Resolution 2254, the United States and our allies will stand with you to ensure the humanitarian aid you deserve reaches everyone in need.
We will never back down. We will always have hope for your future. And we will continue to stand with you.