Thank you, Mr. President,

I would first like to thank Special Envoy Geir Pedersen and also, of course, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martin Griffiths, for their presentations and above all for their commitment. And as this is one of your last meetings – or at least the last in person meeting – in the Security Council, Martin, I would like to thank you most sincerely on behalf of my country for all your humanitarian commitments, particularly with regard to Syria. Personally, I have been lucky enough to work with Martin in a number of capacities, but particularly intensely over the last year and a half on Syria. I can therefore say that I very much appreciate all the work we did together after the earthquake. Thank you. You have always encouraged the Council to act for humanity and in defense of those most in need. We wish you all the best for the future – I cannot imagine it will really be retirement. Thank you again, Martin!

Together with the Special Envoy, Switzerland remains very concerned about the lack of progress towards a political solution in Syria, particularly regarding the implementation of Resolution 2254 and the “step-by-step” approach proposed by the Special Envoy.

It is regrettable that the momentum to relaunch a viable political process and dialogue between regional players, initiated in the aftermath of the tragic earthquakes of February of last year, has faltered. It was an opportunity that we felt could have been seized.

In this respect, we will continue to be ready to make our good offices available in Geneva, for any initiatives or peace talks under the aegis of the UN. The most important issue, however, is the urgent need for a political solution in Syria in line with Resolution 2254.

The establishment of a nationwide ceasefire is a fundamental milestone in the resolution to consolidate peace. In view of the hostilities that continue to affect various parts of the country, such a ceasefire is more necessary and urgent than ever. For this to happen, Syrian territory must also be protected from the spread of the Middle East conflict.

With a view to lasting peace, Switzerland will continue to support the work of the UN and civil society organizations to ensure that the serious violations of international law committed since 2011 do not go unpunished. For there can be no peace without justice in Syria.

Mr. President,

Allow me to say a few more words on the humanitarian issues.

Over the past year, the humanitarian situation in Syria has deteriorated further, and armed violence has continued across the country. Switzerland reiterates its call on all parties to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law, particularly with regard to the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure, as well as humanitarian access.

In this respect, it is to be welcomed that the authorization for the UN to use the Bab al-Salam and Al-Ra'ee crossings has been renewed for three months, and we are very grateful. Nevertheless, humanitarian actors need greater predictability to plan their activities, especially with dwindling resources. Humanitarian access must never be limited in time. We reiterate that all aid modalities - including cross-border and cross-line aid - are necessary to meet the enormous needs in the country. Allowing and facilitating the rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian aid to populations in need is an obligation under international humanitarian law, incumbent not only on all parties to the conflict, but also on all states.

16.7 million people in Syria are in need of humanitarian aid, including almost 13 million suffering from food insecurity. As financial resources dwindle and needs increase across Syria, the international community's response must not be limited to emergency humanitarian aid. More sustainable humanitarian action, including early recovery projects, is essential to increase people's resilience and improve their living conditions and give them a perspective, including an economic one.

We know that the consequences of the Syrian crisis are weighing heavily on the countries of the region. This is the reason why, at the Brussels Conference, Switzerland pledged over $65 million for the current year to help people in need in Syria and in the region. And we will keep these promises.

Despite the many deteriorating humanitarian contexts, we cannot forget the plight of the Syrian people. But it is clear that in order to help meet these humanitarian needs, a political solution will be needed - and let me say here to the Special Envoy that we will certainly: “work with you, and on the way forward”.

Thank you.

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