The United Nations representative emphasizes the importance of “genuine progress” in achieving a political resolution and ultimately ending the war.
Geir Pedersen, the UN Special Envoy for Syria, informed the ambassadors at the Security Council that although there have been diplomatic advancements, they have not resulted in any concrete improvements on the ground for civilians.
He also expressed concern about the consequences of the Israel-Palestine crisis on the region.
In addition to murders, physical harm, forced relocation, kidnapping and imprisonment, the speaker stated that Syrians are now at risk of escalation into neighboring regions, exacerbating the already volatile situation.
According to Mr. Pedersen, there have been several airstrikes in Syria in the past few weeks that have been attributed to Israel. Reports suggest that the Damascus and Aleppo airports have been rendered unusable.
“At this time, the only operating airport is in Latakia, which is causing disruptions in civilian air travel and the UN’s humanitarian efforts,” he stated.
In addition, he stated that there were numerous accounts of missiles being fired from southern Syria towards Israeli-occupied Syrian Golan, as well as frequent assaults on US bases in northeastern Syria.
The UN representative stated that violence is ongoing in all parts of Syria and is becoming worse in some areas. There are concerning reports of innocent civilians being harmed.
Requirement for exercising ‘extreme caution’.
Emphasizing the importance of exercising caution, all parties involved – both Syrians and non-Syrians – must refrain from further actions, according to Mr. Pedersen. He warned against any false assumptions that the current state of continuous escalation can be maintained.
He cautioned that a significant increase in conflict would result in catastrophic outcomes in a highly delicate scenario, where unofficial leaders and the involvement and behavior of outside military forces are prominent aspects of the environment.
The speaker emphasized the importance of ongoing de-escalation in Syria and achieving a ceasefire across the country. They also urged all parties to work together to combat terrorist groups listed by the Security Council. It was stressed that all actions must adhere to international humanitarian law in order to safeguard the safety of civilians and infrastructure.
Unsustainable status quo
Emphasizing that the difficulties faced are indicative of a conflict that cannot be resolved by a single entity or current group of entities, Mr. Pedersen emphasized the importance of a political course of action that leads to real advancements in achieving a political resolution.
The UN Special Envoy stated that as 2023 comes to an end, increased violence and discontent, including demonstrations, serve as a reminder that the current situation is not sustainable.
He stated that this situation is not acceptable and must be addressed. It highlights the ineffectiveness of limited solutions in resolving the widespread suffering and ongoing conflict in Syria.
Assistance across borders remains crucial for Syria.
In addition, during her presentation to the Security Council, Lisa Doughten, who serves as the Director of Humanitarian Finance and Resource Mobilization at the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), discussed the ongoing plight of civilians.
In the midst of the significant increase in conflict, providing aid across borders is crucial for over four million individuals in northwest Syria, according to the speaker. She emphasized the urgent need to expand the delivery of aid through various methods due to the overwhelming level of need throughout the country.
She also notified members of the Council that insufficient funding greatly hinders OCHA’s ability to provide a response.
As the year comes to a close, the 2023 Humanitarian Response Plan for Syria has only received 33% of the necessary funding, with $1.8 billion out of the required $5.4 billion.
She stated, “We have given multiple warnings about this shortage of resources, which is greatly limiting our ability to offer essential aid to millions of individuals who are in need.”
The UN Security Council has extended the term of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus.
On Thursday, the Security Council extended the term of the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) for another six months until June 30, 2024.
The Council unanimously passed a resolution 2718 (2023) written jointly by Russia and the United States. The resolution urges all parties involved in the Syrian conflict to stop all military activities in the country, including in the UNDOF area, and to adhere to international humanitarian laws.
UNDOF was established in May 1974, following the agreed disengagement of the Israeli and Syrian forces in the Golan, following the 1973 war. Since then, the UN Force has remained in the area to maintain the ceasefire between Israel and Syria and to supervise the implementation of the disengagement agreement.