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

Feridun H. Sinirlioğlu 16.09.2020
Mr. President,

Let me start by thanking USG Lowcock for his briefing and commend the devoted efforts of humanitarian workers in Syria.

As one of the largest humanitarian organizations worldwide, Turkish Red Crescent has been among the first responders to the emerging needs of Syrian people.

This week, terrorists targeted Turkish Red Crescent convoy in Al Bab. One Red Crescent personel lost his life and another one got injured.
We strongly condemn this heinous terrorist attack.

This attack is a blatant violation of international humanitarian law and constitutes a crime according to Geneva Conventions. We will hold the perpetrators accountable.

Mr. President,

Syria is one of the most dangerous places on earth, not only for Syrian civilians but also for all humanitarian aid workers.

Last week, this Council discussed the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on peace and security.

Syria is one of the places where a serious outbreak can happen anytime.

OCHA indicates that during the past two months, the pandemic across Syria has rapidly evolved. Given the limited testing across the country, it is likely that the majority of the cases are undetected and the actual number of cases may far exceed official figures.

This is a country with a highly vulnerable population and a devastated health system.

There is also a shortage of personel protective equipment.

Under the pressure of a regime killing its own people, it is not surprising that these front-line workers are exposed to the pandemic without any means of protection.

The high number of confirmed cases among doctors and nurses indicates the gravity of the situation.

Mr. President,

In the northwest, COVID-19 continues to have a multiplier effect vis-à-vis the already dire humanitarian situation.

Together with the UN, we strive to channel medical aid to more than 4 million people living in the area, through the cross-border mechanism. Since the adoption of the Security Council resolution 2533, we ensured the safe passage of 718 trucks full of humanitarian assistance through Bab al Hawa border gate.

Around 3 million of the population in the northwest is highly vulnerable and rely on humanitarian assistance to meet their basic needs such as shelter, food and water.

The failure of the Security Council to re-authorize Bab al Salam crossing point last July, continues to create various challenges, putting millions of lives at risk.

It is obvious that the limited cross-border delivery will have grave repercussions on the health situation which is already deteriorating at a large scale.

We call on the Security Council to uphold its responsibility and immediately consider re-authorizing Bab al Salam gate for cross-border humanitarian operations.

As to the disruption challenges regarding the Allouk water system in the northeast, we continue our efforts to find a durable solution in cooperation with the UN and relevant countries.

Let me repeat once again that sustainability of the water system and the provision of water to Hassakeh in full capacity depends on the supply of electrical power without interruption. PKK/YPG has regularly and deliberately disrupted electricity to the water station for almost a year. As of today, electric supply to the region corresponds only to 29% of the actual needs. Those who have influence on the spoilers should take necessary actions.

Mr. President,

The Assad regime started 2020 with an indiscriminate military campaign by targeting the densely-populated areas in Idlib, such as homes, hospitals and schools.
We saw the worst humanitarian disaster that Syria has seen in nine years of conflict.

Now the regime, at each and every single meeting of the Security Council, is trying to divert the attention from the enormous destruction, suffering and displacement it had imposed on its own people.

We should not forget about the innocent victims who are still waiting for justice to be served.

We should not forget about the brave Syrian people who risked their lives not to surrender to Assad.
Last week, after months, the Council was finally able to meet in an open format to shed light on the appalling crimes committed by the regime with chemical weapons. We should not forget its devastating humanitarian consequences and how the courageous Syrian doctors saved countless lives in underground hospitals.

Mr. President,

Let’s also not forget about the millions of Syrians who escaped the mass-murderer in Damascus and took refuge in neighboring countries.
My country is hosting one fifth of the pre-war population of Syria, and is strictly implementing the non-refoulement principle. We continue to mobilize all our resources for the well-being of these people.

It is with deep regret that we witness in our neighborhood that COVID-19 pandemic is used as a pretext to abandon or push-back hundreds of migrants at sea. We continue to conduct rescue operations to save these people from death.

Let me remind that under these precarious circumstances, the situation of refugees and migrants requires our close attention more than ever. We all have to abide by our international obligations.

Turkey will continue to stand by the Syrian people and seek accountability for the blatant violations of international law and international humanitarian law by the Syrian regime.

Thank you.