New York

22 February 2014

Secretary-General's remarks to the Security Council on the adoption of a Resolution concerning the Humanitarian Situation in Syria

I very much welcome the adoption of this resolution.

We are all keenly aware of the profound and prolonged desperation of the Syrian people.

If this resolution is implemented quickly and in good faith, at least some of the suffering can be eased.

It builds on the presidential statement adopted last year, and strengthens the Council’s engagement in protecting civilians and ensuring the delivery of relief. 

The humanitarian situation in Syria continues to deteriorate.  Half the country’s people need urgent assistance.  Host countries need support in caring for more than 2.5 million refugees. 

Civilians continue to bear the brunt of the conflict.  They are the daily victims of brutal violence and indiscriminate attacks, including the use of heavy weapons, aerial bombings, mortars and car bombs in population areas. 

There are continued reports of massacres and atrocities throughout the country.

Women and girls have been subjected to sexual and gender-based violence.

Syrian Government and allied militias have been responsible for countless killings, disappearances, the horrendous use of barrel bombs and torture on a massive scale.

Opposition groups have carried out summary executions, the recruitment of children for combat and the use of terror tactics in civilian areas.

Attacks against civilian infrastructure, including schools and hospitals, continue unabated.

These heinous acts are unacceptable and must stop immediately. All combatting parties in Syria must abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law. 

I commend UN humanitarian personnel, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and our other partners for their bravery and commitment.

Despite the dangerous circumstances, UN humanitarian agencies and our partners are reaching millions of people.  But too many millions are beyond our reach.  And funding continues to fall short; I urge the international community to step up its contributions. 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This resolution should not have been necessary.  Humanitarian assistance is not something to be negotiated; it is something to be allowed by virtue of international law.

Profoundly shocking to me is that both sides are besieging civilians as a tactic of war.

Some 200,000 people are under siege in government-controlled areas – and 45,000 in opposition-controlled areas.

More broadly, this resolution highlights again the urgent need to end the conflict.

While the political process continues, we will continue to do all we can to provide relief and protection to people in need on the ground.

Thank you.