Chinese envoy calls for lifting unilateral coercive measures on Syria

UNITED NATIONS,(ST)- A Chinese envoy on Tuesday urged the relevant countries to immediately lift the unilateral coercive measures imposed on Syria.

"As long as the unilateral coercive measures are not lifted, there will be no fundamental improvement in the humanitarian situation in Syria. A country, that claims to be concerned about the suffering of Syrian civilians, has imposed additional unilateral coercive measures on Syria, ruthlessly stifling the livelihoods of Syrian people," Zhang Jun, China's permanent representative to the United Nations, said in his remarks in explanation of China's vote at the Security Council about the draft resolution on the mandate of the renewal of the cross-border mechanism in Syria.

"China once again calls on the Security Council to address this critical issue, and urges the relevant countries to immediately lift the unilateral coercive measures imposed on Syria," he said.

"We also request a comprehensive assessment by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs on the impact of unilateral coercive measures on the overall humanitarian situation in Syria, to be presented by the secretary-general in a focused report to the Security Council," said the envoy.

Speaking of the effects of unilateral coercive measures, Zhang said that these measures "have further aggravated the economic and humanitarian crisis in Syria."

"Years of illegal sanctions have had immeasurable impact on the economic and social development of Syria, devastated livelihoods, and brought untold sufferings to innocent civilians. The unilateral coercive measures have also severely undermined Syria's capacity to respond to COVID-19," said the envoy.

The ambassador noted that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Special Envoy Geir Pedersen have repeatedly called on the relevant countries to lift unilateral coercive measures.

"To this end, China proposed amendments to the draft resolution. It is disappointing that the draft resolution submitted by co penholders completely ignores China's amendments and does not contain a single word about unilateral coercive measures. China is compelled to vote against such an un objective and unbalanced draft resolution," Zhang said.

As to the cross-border mechanism, Zhang noted that it is "merely an urgent and temporary arrangement."

"It is the primary responsibility of the Syrian Government to improve the humanitarian situation in the country. The sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria must be respected," he added.

"China encourages the relevant parties to step up their efforts to promote cross-line operations and make corresponding adjustments to the cross-border mechanism. Considering the humanitarian needs in Syria, China does not object to retaining the cross-border mechanism at this stage. Meanwhile, cross-border operations should strictly follow the guiding principles of humanitarian emergency assistance set out in the General Assembly resolution 46/182, ensure impartiality, neutrality and credibility, and enhance coordination with the Syrian Government," the envoy said.

"China notes that there are still fundamental differences among Security Council members on the number of crossing points and extension period. China hopes that members will reach consensus through consultations," said Zhang.

The ambassador emphasized that China has consistently advocated a holistic and comprehensive approach for the Syrian issue.

"The political, counter-terrorism, security and humanitarian aspects must be considered altogether. Ultimately, the differences among parties concerned on the humanitarian issues in Syria must be resolved by advancing the Syrian political process. We urge all parties to strengthen dialogue, increase mutual trust, respond positively to the Secretary-General's global ceasefire appeal, and move towards a political solution to the Syrian issue," he said.

Talking about China's assistance to the Syria, the envoy said that China attaches great importance to the humanitarian situation in Syria and supports the international community and UN agencies in stepping up humanitarian relief for the Syrian people.

"China has been providing a wide range of assistance to Syria through bilateral and multilateral channels, including in the areas of food, medicine, education and public services, and played a positive role in improving the humanitarian situation on the ground," Zhang said.

"Since the outbreak of COVID-19, China has provided to Syria two batches of medical supplies and held video conferences with Syrian health experts in an effort to help the Syrian Government and people fight the virus," said the ambassador.

Haifaa Mafalani