Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
July 8, 2022
Thank you, Mr. President. And let me also start by adding my condolences to those who have also expressed them to the former Prime Minister of Japan and former President of Angola. Let me also thank the penholders, our colleagues Norway and Ireland, on the issue at hand for us today. Their leadership in drafting the compromise resolution was very much appreciated.
And that is what we are voting on today: a compromise. The United States and many others wanted a more expansive resolution that would open more border-crossings. That is what is required to actually meet the dire needs of the Syrian people, whose conditions are worse than at any point since the war started. And we will need to do much more work to help the Syrian people after today. We have had a consistent position on this over the years – needs on the ground must drive humanitarian decisions, not politics. But we are not letting perfect be the enemy of the good. We want to build on last year’s Council unity, and so we will vote in favor of the resolution today.
But before we do, I want to explain the three main reasons we are strongly supporting the resolution and why we urge every member of this Council to do the same. First, the UN cross-border mechanism provides unparalleled transparency and stability. It ensures that aid that goes into northwest Syria is properly inspected, reviewed, and tracked. And it gives NGOs the critical 12-month timeline they need to plan ahead and coordinate the incoming resources. Any renewal less than 12 months would disrupt supply chains, resulting in less aid for the larger number of people who require it.
I visited the Bab al-Hawa crossing and trans-shipment hub last month, where boxes are verified and sealed. And I can tell you that this is one of the most closely monitored and well-organized crossings in the world. I saw firsthand what is going across the border – I saw the medicine, the food, diapers, and blankets. If we do not renew this border crossing, we will have no UN verification system in place and no regular timeline. Whatever emerges to take its place will provide less humanitarian assistance and lack any collective oversight or reliability. And that is a bad outcome for all of us.
Second, we have all made progress on everything we promised when we unanimously passed the resolution last year. The United States in particular has demonstrated our sincere commitment to delivering on issues that are important to members of the Council.
A vote against the resolution is in fact a vote against cross-line aid – a component of this resolution that, while insufficient on its own, the United States continues to support and hopes will continue to expand.
A vote against this Resolution is a vote against early-recovery efforts, which we know is an important component of a sustainable humanitarian response.
A vote against this Resolution is a vote against transparency undertaken by the UN Monitoring Mission.
And a vote against this Resolution is a death sentence.
Bab al-Hawa is the single most effective way we can get life-or-death assistance into northwest Syria. Medicines, vaccines, food, water, educational supplies, and so much more. We cannot shut all this assistance off at a time when prices for basic goods like food and gas are spiking. We cannot cause a self-inflicted catastrophe at a moment when a humanitarian crisis is pushing more and more Syrians to the brink.
Which leads me to our third and final reason for supporting this resolution. And it’s a simple one: 4.1 million people are counting on us. That’s how many people in northwest Syria need humanitarian assistance that we must all vote to renew in just a few moments. There are 15 of us on the Security Council. That means that every single one of us holds the fate of roughly 270,000 people in our hands. So, when you take this vote, think of the 270,000 people you, personally, are responsible for. Think of the young boy who is wondering whether he will be able to continue his education, let alone survive the harsh winter to come. Think of the pregnant woman who won’t be able to deliver her baby safely if her hospital does not have the supplies she needs. Think of the family who will feel hunger in the pit of their stomachs – unbearable hunger that no one should ever have to experience – if we do not renew this resolution.
Colleagues, failure is not an option today. We must get this done. We must move politics to the side and put the needs of the Syrian people first. And I urge you to vote yes on this resolution.
Thank you, Mr. President.