Thank you, Mr. President. I wanted to respond to a couple of things that I think were said that I think is important that we set the record straight on. On Russia’s assertion that we should see an end to the cross-border assistance, due to gains made in access, would be false. Mr. Lowcock just briefed that the UN was only able to reach 280,500 people last month with interagency convoys out of 1.3 million people requested. That’s only 21 percent. Meanwhile, the UN reaches more than 1 million people each month cross-border. These are 1 million people who would be left with nothing if we ceased cross-border aid.
In addition, the Syrian regime continues to remove medical items from convoys and artificially reduces the beneficiary numbers. These actions are not demonstrations of goodwill from the government and they’re not a government we can trust. Now is not the time to reduce our tools to reach people in need; Syrians have suffered for nearly seven years. In short, cross-border assistance must continue in order to save millions of people from death and destruction.
I will also say that so many of us want to see an end to the Syrian crisis. We all have watched too many people suffer. We’ve all met in the Security Council too many times to discuss the situation.
But I would like to explain to our Syrian counterpart that the refugees didn’t leave Syria just because of terrorists. I went there and spoke to the ones in Jordan; I spoke to the refugees in Turkey, and all of them, whether they were in a camp or not in a camp, said their bigger fear was the regime. The reason they left Syria was out of fear for terrorism, but also out of fear of their very own government. And so you were talking about aid, and it was $697 million that is going to host countries, but we’re giving those to host countries because we know they take care of their people and we’ve seen proof that they take care of their people. We would like to give that money to Syria. We would like to give to their government if we can see proof that they are taking care of their own people. And so trust has to be earned. Trust has to be taken in based on good faith and good will. We haven’t seen that. We’re not giving up on seeing that, but there is no way that you can come to this Council and talk about the fact that anyone’s doing anything politically in this situation because the truth of the matter is the only political thing we all want is for Syrians to be able to go home and live under a government that takes care of their own people. So give us proof. Give us proof that you’re doing good by your people. Give us proof that Syrians are better for being back in Syria and not in Turkey and Jordan. Because right now, they’re being better taken care of in Jordan and Turkey than they’ve ever been in Syria. And they deserve to go home, and they deserve to feel safe, and they deserve to be in a place where the government takes care of them.