Thank you, Madam President,

I would like begin by thanking the Special Envoy Geir Pedersen, OCHA’s Director of Coordination Ramesh Rajasingham and Madam Hayford from Malteser International for their presentations. I believe that everyone has emphasized the great, long-term suffering of the Syrian people, which must come to an end. And I would like to thank them for their commitment to restoring a perspective of hope. I would also like to welcome the representatives from the region, and in particular a warm welcome to the new representative from Turkey.

Madam President,

Switzerland is deeply concerned by the spiral of violence underway in the Middle East, a region on the "precipice of disaster", as the Secretary General rightly notes. And we have repeatedly made our positions on the recent attacks very clear. Here, today, I would like to stress the imperative that the regionalisation of the conflict in the Middle East and its current extension into Syria be contained. There is an urgent need to work towards de-escalation.

Allow me to make a few comments on the political aspects. Thirteen years of conflict have already ravaged Syria. In order to prevent any further escalation, we call on all those involved militarily in Syria or who exert influence on the parties to the conflict to commit to a ceasefire throughout Syrian territory in accordance and as called for by Resolution 2254. We recall that civilian populations and infrastructures must be protected under international law, in particular international humanitarian law and human rights law in all circumstances.

In this respect, Switzerland supports all the efforts of the Special Envoy, in coordination with Syria and the countries of the region, to resume a credible and viable political process, in accordance with Resolution 2254.

Inside and outside the country, the appeal of the Syrian civil society must also be heeded. Many Syrians, particularly young women, citizens, refugees and local political representatives, are demanding their right to full, equal and meaningful participation in decisions affecting their future.

This same civil society has also played a key role, which we welcome, in the creation of the new independent institution for missing persons based in Geneva. Switzerland stresses that the cooperation of all actors with this humanitarian institution will be crucial in finally granting a right to know to the relatives of detained and missing persons, regardless of their affiliation, thus paving the way towards reconciliation and a lasting political solution in Syria.

Faced with the commission of atrocity crimes since 2011, the fight against impunity, facilitated in particular by the impartial and independent International Mechanism, is a sine qua non condition for achieving lasting peace.

Madam President,

I would now like to say a few words about the humanitarian aspect.

The resumption of the political process is also an essential condition for reversing the spiral of humanitarian and economic decline in Syria. The international community has a responsibility to ensure that the conflict and the humanitarian situation in Syria are not forgotten.

An unprecedented 16.7 million people in Syria are in need of humanitarian aid – as we have just heard. The country is facing a protracted, multidimensional crisis in which economic, social and natural factors combine with those linked to the conflict to affect women and girls disproportionately. 80% of the 2 million displaced people still living in camps in north-west Syria are women and children.

Women's and girls' access to humanitarian aid, including food aid, in a safe and sustainable manner, remains far too often limited, as the response to the earthquake in February 2023 revealed. In addition, the risks and cases of abuse, violence and exploitation against women and girls remain particularly high. While the number of places of refuge - including safe spaces for women and girls - is insufficient. In this context, it is vital to continue to support those involved in protection activities.

Humanitarian aid must continue to adopt a gender-sensitive approach in order to alleviate the suffering and preserve the dignity of civilian populations. At the same time, early recovery projects in Syria remain essential in order to strengthen people's resilience and reduce their dependence on humanitarian aid.

Madam President,

Given the scale of the needs, it is crucial that the Council keeps a close eye on these developments. Humanitarian actors need greater predictability to plan their activities, especially with dwindling resources. Humanitarian access must not be limited in time. In this respect, it is to be welcomed that the authorizations granted to date for the various cross-border crossing points have been extended. We call for them to continue to be used as long as necessary, with no time limit. All forms of aid - including cross-border aid and cross-line aid - are crucial. We recall that allowing and facilitating the rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian aid is an obligation under international humanitarian law.

Thank you.

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