Statement by Mr. Levent Eler, Charge d’Affaires a.i. of the Permanent Mission of Turkey to the UN at the United Nations Security Council on the briefing on "Humanitarian Situation in Syria"

Levent Eler 16.07.2013
Madame President,

At the outset, allow me to thank you for organizing this very timely briefing. Our thanks also go to Madame Amos, Mr.Guterres, and Mr. Šimonovič, for their valuable updates on the intensifying humanitarian crisis in Syria.

Today’s briefing serves as another reminder that the grave humanitarian situation in Syria is unacceptable and unsustainable. How many more wake-up calls are necessary for the international community to effectively address this crisis?

The Syrian regime, which tried to suppress the legitimate demands of its people through the indiscriminate use of violence and then declared an all-out war against them by employing heavy weaponry, has been escalating its inhumane attacks by every passing day. After Qusair, Hama and Homs are under the regime’s heavy bombardment from both ground and air. The use of ballistic missiles and now chemical weapons against the civilian population which further increase our concern and indignation are turning the situation into the biggest humanitarian tragedy of the 21st century.

Unless these attacks come to an end and foreign militia forces fighting on the side of the regime leave the country, it will not be possible to open up the way for a peaceful settlement.

Madame President,

This bloodshed must come to an end through a political solution and a meaningful transition, while preserving the territorial integrity and political unity of Syria. The international community, in particular the United Nations, has a vital role to play there. On the other hand, we should address the current humanitarian crisis in a realistic and result-oriented manner, to extend a helping hand to the civilian victims of this disaster.

As we just heard from the esteemed briefers, the recent reports of the United Nations and UN agencies operating on the ground portray a troublesome picture. I shall not repeat the numbers, which speak for themselves.

When we look at the situation from the Turkish side of the border, we see a crisis threatening regional and international peace and security as well as posing a grave burden on Syria’s neighbors. The neighboring countries cannot and should not be asked to face these pressing challenges alone.

We, in Turkey, are exerting our utmost effort to respond the ramifications of the Syrian crisis. Our assistance is based on the principles of responsibility and conscience. I would like to stress here that, despite its ever-increasing burden, Turkey will continue to stand by the Syrian people and its open door policy for Syrians will continue.

We are now hosting over 200 thousand Syrians in 20 camps. The number exceeds half a million with those who found their ways to various Turkish cities and towns.

Besides keeping its borders open, Turkey also provides appropriate living conditions to Syrians in the camps in all fields pertaining to daily life such as health, education and social needs. Turkish expenses that arose from the responsibility to respond to the crisis have exceeded 1.5 billion US Dollars. Furthermore, Turkish Red Crescent is delivering humanitarian relief at the zero point of the border with Syria with transparency, and in conformity with international legitimacy and humanitarian principles.

Madame President,

As highlighted by the UN, humanitarian funding falls short of keeping up with the needs in Syria. However, pledging financial support is not sufficient alone.
The existing methodology to realize the principles of full, unimpeded and safe humanitarian access is not working amidst the growing and deepening crisis in Syria. International community, within the perspective of burden-sharing, must take collective action. As a response to this growing tragedy and the plight of the Syrian people, new and creative measures and methods are needed, in order to ensure safe and sustained humanitarian access, to address the problems of internally displaced persons within Syria. The Council needs to consider alternative forms of aid delivery, including cross-border operations.

The international community, particularly the UN Security Council has a moral responsibility to act urgently, resolutely and collectively. In its absence, this untenable situation, destroying human lives, damaging livelihoods and threatening regional and international peace and security will continue to grow.

Madame President,

We reiterate once again our support for Syrian people’s legitimate aspirations to live in dignity and our determination to continue doing our utmost in responding to the humanitarian crisis across our borders.

Thank you.