Madam President,

I wish to now speak in my national capacity on the political situation in Syria.

As we have just said, the earthquakes of 6 February and their numerous aftershocks have decimated entire communities in the north and northwest of the country.

The testimony of Ahmad, a member of a civil society organisation active in Aleppo province, illustrates this tragic situation:

"In a few moments, everyone became a victim. Civilians, aid workers, and even police, ambulance and civil defense personnel, all fell victim to this devastating earthquake. 80 seconds was enough to change life there.”

For these Syrians, those 80 seconds of earthquake came on top of twelve years of conflict that have undermined the political and social foundation of their country.

Switzerland is grateful to Special Envoy Pedersen for his commitment to the people affected by the earthquakes, from the very beginning and in accordance with the mandate given to him by this Council. In this context, we welcome the two meetings of the Humanitarian Task Force held under his aegis on 9 and 22 February in Geneva, the headquarters of the UN in Europe, and of the main humanitarian organisations involved on the ground.

Switzerland would also like to amplify the Special Envoy's call for a national ceasefire and encourage him to continue to hold talks with the main regional and international actors to this end. From Aleppo to Suweida, from Deir Ez-Zor to Homs, airstrikes, indiscriminate attacks and armed clashes are endangering civilians across the country and seriously hampering the achievement of a lasting peace. We call on all parties to the conflict to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law and human rights law and to protect civilians and humanitarian personnel.

Madam President,

In accordance with Resolution 2254 and the appeal of the Secretary-General in his recent study, Switzerland calls for the fate of the detained and missing persons to be fully clarified.

Relatives of missing persons are among the 15.3 million Syrians who depend on humanitarian aid. They are among the millions of Syrian refugees around the world. And some of them again lost family members during the 80 seconds of violent earthquake.  

Giving these relatives the right to know opens the door to a political solution, which remains the only way out of the conflict.

Thank you.