Statement by Turkey at the Security Council Meeting on “the Situation in the Middle East”

Feridun H. Sinirlioğlu 19.05.2020
Mr. President,

Thank you for organizing this meeting.

I also thank USG Lowcock for his briefing and salute the work of all humanitarian workers to help the Syrian people.

More than nine million Syrians live under the care and protection of Turkey.

Nearly five million of them live right across Turkey’s border with Syria. I am here to voice their urgent expectations from the International Community.

Mr. President,

In the northwest, the situation in Idlib remains desperate.

Indiscriminate military campaign by the regime has rendered health services unprepared for COVID-19.

Today, only 55% of the health facilities are operational, while 75% of health workers have fled or been killed.

Currently there are no confirmed COVID-19 cases. Yet, given the population density, number of highly vulnerable groups and insufficient means and measures, this is a high-risk region.

Mr. President,

Amid this imminent threat, UN cross-border operations continue unabated, with the support and facilitation of my Government.

We have increased the duration and volume of deliveries via Bab Al Hawa and Bab Al Salaam.

As a result, the number of monthly truck crossings in March and April has reached the highest levels.

OCHA and the Turkish Red Crescent dispatch masks, coveralls and ventilators to northwest Syria.

More than 10.000 test kits and thousands of other pandemic-related items have been delivered to Idlib through cross-border mechanism.

However, this figure covers only 1% of current needs.

It is crucial that all international stakeholders, especially WHO, increase their humanitarian assistance.

Donors must also continue to prioritize funding for this response.

We must note that the UN cross-border assistance is the only way to meet the humanitarian needs of these people.

There is no alternative that can match the scale and scope of these operations.

In this time of pandemic, we must strengthen the existing mechanism.

Mr. President,

In the northeast, the healthcare system is broken and there is no capacity to mitigate the pandemic.

By disrupting the humanitarian response, the regime is weaponizing the virus against Syrian civilians.

The Secretary-General reports that since the closure of Al Yarubiyah border gate, cross-line diminished deliveries can only cover 31% of the facilities previously supported.

Again, the regime imposes death or surrender as the only options.

To meet the needs of the hospitals, we must urgently authorize UN to conduct cross-border humanitarian aid in the region.

As recommended by the Secretary-General, Tel Abyad border gate is the most feasible alternative to Al Yarubiyah.

Those people urgently need the inclusion of Tel Abyad in the mechanism.

Otherwise, the pandemic could create additional devastating consequences for civilians.

Once the Security Council provides the necessary authorization, we are ready to immediately operationalize the Tel Abyad border gate for cross-border assistance and meet all the humanitarian needs in the northeast.

Mr. President,

I would also like to touch upon issues originating from water and electric supplies.

Despite our repeated calls and initiatives, there is a serious shortage of electricity and water supply in Ras al-Ain and Al-Bab. This causes serious concern among the local populations and impedes efforts to effectively combat COVID-19.

Electrical grids to Ras al-Ain region and the water supply lines to Al-Bab region come from the south.

The electric supply from Tsihrin Dam to Ras al-Ain is interrupted by the terrorist organization PKK/YPG on a regular basis. And the Tishrin Dam is the only source of electrical power to the region.

As the water pumps operate on electrical power, the power cut in Ras al-Ain affects the proper functioning of the Allouk Station and eventually restrains the water supply to the south.

As we have explained on numerous occasions, the allegation that the water supply to Hassekeh region has been deliberately prevented is baseless. And coming from the murderous Assad regime, it is a shameless lie.

Mr. President,

In the last ten years, the Assad regime killed hundreds of thousands of people.

The regime used chemical weapons, shelled schools and bombed hospitals.

We thought we had seen the worst in Syria.

But now we are faced with a regime that is ready to use COVID – 19 as a biological weapon by further constraining the humanitarian access. Since February, the Secretary-General unveiled three reports, all putting emphasis on the suffering of Syrian people at the hands of the Assad regime.

For more than nine years, my country has assumed the responsibility to protect Syrian people on behalf of the international community, not only in Syria but also in our homeland.

We will continue to do so, until Syrian people’s dignity is restored.

This can only be achieved with the strong support of the Security Council.

In the face of the pandemic, we need the cross-border mechanism more than ever.

Renewal of the mechanism with two current crossing points in the northwest and one additional gate in the northeast is a must.

In order to enable the UN and its partners for longer term humanitarian planning under the unpredictable circumstances due to COVID-19, the Security Council must authorize the mechanism without delay and at least for twelve months, as requested by USG Lowcock.

This is not a political matter, but our humanitarian duty for millions of Syrians.

The Security Council has the obligation to prevent the recurrence of another humanitarian tradegy in Syria.

It is time for the International Community to stay united and to act together.

This is what the Syrian people expect from all of us now.

Mr. President,

The previous speaker has repeated again his usual delusional allegations and shameless lies and does not deserve my response.

The answer to the criminal regime he represents will be given by the Syrian people, when they will save and rebuild Syria.

These criminals will be held accountable and brought to justice for all the war crimes and crimes against humanity they have committed.

Thank you.