Following is the text of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ video message for the Brussels V Conference “Supporting the future of Syria and the region”, in Brussels today:
Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
We have come together to support the people of Syria. I am grateful for your participation, but I am also saddened as we mark a decade of bloody war in Syria.
For 10 years, Syrians have endured death, destruction, displacement and deprivation. Hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed and millions injured. Over half the population has been forced from their homes. Countless others have been starved under siege, tortured, illegally detained, or forcibly disappeared.
Half of the children in Syria have been born into war and know nothing else. Over 2 million Syrian children are refugees. They bear deep psychological wounds that will last a lifetime.
And things are getting worse, not better. More than 13 million people need humanitarian assistance to survive this year. That’s over 20 per cent more than last year — and the majority of the population is now facing hunger. Another 10.5 million people — Syrian refugees and those hosting them — require support across the region.
Syria’s economy has been ravaged and now the impacts of COVID-19 have made things worse. Almost half of all families lost their source of income. Nine in 10 Syrians is living in poverty.
For many, the humanitarian aid and protection brought by United Nations agencies and our humanitarian partners is their only source of survival. Every month, humanitarians bring help to 7.6 million people in Syria, including through cross-line and cross-border operations.
This is only possible thanks to the extraordinary commitment and endurance of humanitarians and health workers on the front lines. The vast majority of them are Syrians who have themselves suffered because of the conflict. They brave immense odds, and thousands of them have been killed, maimed, detained and kidnapped since conflict began.
After a decade of war, many Syrians have lost confidence that the international community can help them forge an agreed path out of the conflict. I am convinced that we still can, along with the Syrian parties themselves. We will be relentless in our pursuit of a negotiated political settlement in line with Security Council resolution 2254 (2015).
I also call on you to help us address rising needs and to step up your financial and humanitarian commitments to people in Syria and help relieve the significant financial burden of the countries that are hosting refugees.
The war in Syria is not only Syria’s war. Ending it, and the tremendous suffering it continues to cause, is our collective responsibility.