Switzerland fully endorses the statement made by the permanent representative of Brazil, our co-penholder, on behalf of our two countries on humanitarian issues. I would like to thank Director of OCHA’s Operation and Advocacy Division, Ms Edem Wosornu, for her presentation. Allow me to add a few comments in my national capacity on the political situation in Syria.
Switzerland supports Special Envoy Pedersen's efforts to ensure that Syria is neither threatened nor overshadowed by the regional repercussions of the Middle East conflict. I would like to thank Deputy Special Envoy Najat Rochdi for her briefing on the latest developments in Syria. We regret that efforts to relaunch the political process and the work of the Constitutional Committee, on the basis of resolution 2254, have stalled. We urge all parties concerned to fully engage and collaborate with the Special Envoy with a view to relaunching such a process.
The security situation, particularly in the north of the country, continues to deteriorate sharply. Switzerland reiterates that respect for international humanitarian law and human rights, in particular the protection of civilians, is - and must remain - a priority for this Council. The civilian population and civilian infrastructure, including schools, must be protected at all costs. In the Idlib region, dozens of people - nearly a third of them children - have been killed, and around a hundred thousand others have been displaced by the fighting. In the northeast, armed violence continues, raising fears of a security vacuum that would benefit the Islamic State group, which has been stepping up its attacks of late. As in previous years, this new wave of hostilities in the north of the country disproportionately affects women and girls, increasing the risk of gender-based violence. Finally, the recurrent strikes on the airports of Damascus and Aleppo, and on various sites throughout the country, are proof, among others, that the repercussions of the Middle East conflict are also being felt on Syrian soil. We therefore call for a nationwide ceasefire, in accordance with Resolution 2254.
At this time of high regional tension, we would like to remind you that lasting peace is impossible without justice - in Syria as elsewhere. Switzerland reiterates its full support for civil society organizations, which play a crucial role in documenting international crimes. Their work, like that of the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism, is fundamental to the fight against impunity. Switzerland stresses the need to provide them with the resources they need to carry out their work.
Finally, Switzerland reiterates that the implementation of pragmatic confidence-building measures, within the meaning of Resolution 2254 and by all parties, such as the recent declaration of amnesty and the extension of the opening of the Bab el Salame and Bab el R'ai border crossings, are essential to pave the way for dialogue; within Syria, but also at international level. Real progress towards a political solution can only be made if all the parties concerned resume a realistic, constructive and tangible dialogue. To this end, it is important that the Security Council continues to give Syria its full attention.
I thank you.