Statement of H.E. Ambassador Halit Çevik, Permanent Representative of Turkey at the Security Council

Halit Çevik 18.04.2013
Mr. President,
At the outset, allow me to thank you for organizing this briefing, which gave us the opportunity to draw the attention of the international community, once again, to the gravity of the humanitarian situation in Syria. We followed the presentations of the esteemed chiefs of the key UN humanitarian agencies with great concern.

The Syrian people’s quest for a democratic and free Syria has completed its second year while the Syrian regime continues to indiscriminately target its own people in every possible means, including by use of ballistic missiles. The ongoing assault not only takes many lives but also destroys the historic and cultural heritage of Syria, as well as the economic infrastructure of the country.

The humanitarian situation in Syria is deteriorating day after day. According to the recent figures by the UN, the number of refugees has reached 1.3 million, with 4.5 million people internally displaced and 6 million people in need of urgent humanitarian assistance. UNHCR estimates that the number of refugees would reach 3.5 million by the end of the year, if the international community fails to act urgently.

The international community has a moral responsibility to support the Syrian people in their struggle and this has to be done urgently, collectively and decisively in the face of a deteriorating humanitarian situation which continues to pose a serious threat to regional peace and stability.

The joint appeal by the leaders of the UN humanitarian agencies this week is a serious wake-up call to the international community and yet another reminder to revisit the strategies in trying to address the crisis. It was a call to everyone to start thinking out of the box and act immediately for an effective strategy to save the Syrian people and the region from a catastrophe.

Mr. President,
We continue to believe that the best way to end this bloodshed is through a political solution and transition, while preserving the territorial integrity and political unity of Syria. The international community, in particular the United Nations, has a crucial role to play in that. However, pending this solution, we should be realistic and result-oriented in addressing the humanitarian dimension, the primary consequence of the political crisis.

We, in Turkey, are spending our utmost effort to respond the ramifications of the Syrian crisis. We are now hosting over 190 thousand Syrians in 17 camps, in addition to at least 100 thousand people, who found their ways to various Turkish cities and towns. We are doing our best to supply for their needs in all fields pertaining to daily life including those of health and education.

Furthermore, Turkish Red Crescent is delivering humanitarian relief at the zero point of the border with Syria with transparency, in conformity with international legitimacy and humanitarian principles.

Average number of refugees crossing into the neighbouring countries on a daily basis has reached 8 thousand, hitting 14 thousand people on days of intensive fighting. This number was a couple of thousands until six months ago. Cross-line assistance is becoming increasingly complicated, while certain humanitarian goods, like surgical supplies, being extensively blocked by the regime. This irresponsible policy will only lead to further outflux of refugees. The Council needs to consider alternative forms of aid delivery, including cross-border operations.

The neighboring countries cannot and should not be asked to face these pressing challenges alone. The situation is no longer sustainable and the existing methodology is not working to realize the principles of full, unimpeded and safe humanitarian access.

International community, with the perspective of burden-sharing, must take collective action. Pledging financial support is not sufficient alone. We are of the view that it is due time for the international community to discuss unexplored ways and means to address the problems of internally displaced persons within the Syrian territory and to find alternative destinations for those who still choose to leave, feeling insecure.
In fact our such call has been echoed by many distinguished regional leaders, feeling the same pressure.

It is due time these legitimate concerns are taken into consideration by the international community, and certainly by the United Nations. Otherwise, we may find ourselves in a crisis scenario, much larger than what we have been struggling with.

Mr. President,
Let me conclude by expressing once again our support for Syrian people’s legitimate aspirations to live in dignity and our determination to continue doing our utmost in responding the humanitarian crisis across our borders. We would also like to remind the international community of its obligation to act urgently, decisively and responsibly, before it becomes further too late.

Mr. President,
We regret the use of the Security Council floor for the emission of inaccurate and thus misleading information.

Certainly, the Council, and through media the international community, have heard the coherent views of the participants regarding the policies of the Syrian regime. The facts provided cannot be blurred by futile attempts to argue otherwise.

Turkey will continue to show solidarity with the Syrian people, whose views cannot be heard at this platform.

Thank you Mr. President.