Mr President, your Excellencies,
The Syrian National Conference is a group of Syrian women and men: within the Syrian territories and abroad, from various but independent political and civil currents, and consider the United Nations resolutions, especially the Geneva Communique and Security Council Resolution 2254, as the base roadmap for a way out of the tragic situation in Syria. Therefore, our political activity is focused on achieving the greatest national consensus regarding these resolutions and the means of the implementation, and on the humanitarian issues resulting from the current complex war with the need to prioritize all urgent issues.
Regarding the efforts of the Constitutional Committee to accomplish what it is mandated for; we believe that the working mechanism should be revisited from exclusively closed sessions to include public civil discussions and seminars that transmit the work progress to the public, and constitute a strong suggestion to move the discussion from an internal conflict among negotiators to a national dialogue for a modern Syrian constitution. To this end, we organized large meetings, physically and remotely, to cultivate the idea of the constitutional state into the collective consciousness. In addition, we called on the UNSE to invite the largest number of specialists, politicians and jurists to Geneva to expand the circle of action and influence, with a constant focus on the fact that this constitutional track is part of a whole that includes: building trust measures, political transition, and the difficult humanitarian issues that Syrians suffer from in various regions.
The political process in Syria was limited to only the constitutional track, accompanied by an almost complete neglect of everything related to confidence building measures mentioned in paragraphs 13, 14, 12 of UNSCR 2254. Meanwhile, there are emergency humanitarian needs that, unfortunately, did not receive the attention they deserve. The number of displaced Syrians is 6.7 million citizens, a significant part of them were forcibly displaced. In addition, they suffer from blatant housing and property ownership HLP violations, and in many cases, those victims turn into aggressors within the areas to which they are displaced, in particular, those who belong to an armed group.
We urge the inclusion of the issue of the forced displacement, housing, land, and property ownership in the negotiations and deliberations of the Special Envoy with the various Syrian stakeholders.
Overall, the foregoing issues create a rupture in the Syrian societal fabric as well as tragic confrontations. Of a significant mention, what we are witnessing as violations in Afrin city nowadays is an instance of what would happen if the previous issues remained unsolved. The Bar Association or human rights organizations are incapacitated to intervene because they are not protected by any local or international security forces, moreover, they can easily join the huge list of arbitrarily detainees of various detention centres across different Syrian regions.
The severe living conditions of the Syrians inside the country are among the worst in the region, whether regarding the monthly income or the accessibility of basics such as water, electricity, food and medicine. The war economy has flourished in all aspects like the cancer in the body, and it is unfortunate that “business of mercenaries” has become the only opportunity to work for thousands of unemployed youth.
The number of Syrian refugees today is close to six and a half million, and it is unfortunate to say that the conditions for safe and secure return are not available neither in the areas of the Syrian government nor the de facto governments.
We, through a wide civil network to build bridges between Syrians in Europe, seek to build networks of protection, interaction and assistance for our people back home. There are hundreds of thousands of families inside Syria who, without financial support from a refugee relative, are unable to provide the conditions for survival. Our people inside Syria hope, not only that the refugee would be in a safe and acceptable situation, but also would be able to help them as much as possible, on the one hand, and be the voice that conveys their suffering and pain to the world on the other.
It is unfortunate that the economic sanctions’ policy lacks what the United Nations once called “smart sanctions or targeted sanctions”. When it comes to Syrian territory, the majority of the most important Western economic companies are in a state of phobia. We encountered sanctions implications’ related problems, of significant mention, amidst the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, and as a result, our medical team faced great difficulties in delivering vaccines and tests throughout the Syrian territory. Furthermore, Syrian doctors, on several occasions, worked 20 hours a day, due to the lack of staff and equipment.
Until today, for example, social networks have not agreed on a hotline that allows Syrian doctors in the diaspora to establish free remote examinations for a number of our families at home. The stated reason is that Syria is subject to sanctions that do not allow this.
The damages these current sanctions cause to the Syrian people are severe as explained, to this end, it is, among humanitarian the priorities, to reconsider the unilateral sanctions imposed on Syria.
It is unfortunate that international institutions do not give the necessary attention to the issue of arbitrary arrests and missing persons. There is an inhumane position on the part of the Syrian authorities in which they deal with the Syrian detainees as hostages and a bargaining chip. Nevertheless, the situation across the militias’ prisons in their areas of control is no better.
We, with great help from the Syrian diaspora, actively participated, in cooperation with Syrian businessmen, in the restoration of schools, hospitals, mosques and churches in the south of Syria, despite all restrictions and harassment from the government side. It is necessary to discuss excluding the vital construction operations of schools and hospitals from the economic sanctions on Syria, given that postponing this topic or linking it to reconstruction, means sacrificing an entire generation of our children, educationally and healthily.
We believe in the role of Syrian diaspora to support our beloved fellows inside Syria politically and financially. So, we are keen on supporting all initiatives aiming at finding a common ground among the diaspora and unifying their voices in order to play a major political role towards the political solution in Syria. Therefore, we draw your attention to the necessity to strengthen such initiatives and allow the refugees as well to play an active role in achieving peace in the country.
The whole picture is vague and not bright, despite, we refuse to confiscate our right to hope… We aspire that the Security Council and the United Nations will put the Syrian issue in a place that is commensurate with the scale of the tragedy experienced by Syrians inside Syria and abroad. In addition, It is necessary for regional and international organizations to place their allocations for Syria in the right and feasible place.
And we draw your attention to the fact that the marginalisation of the Syrian issue have severe consequences on the regional and international security.
Thank you, Mr President’s, your excellencies,
Mounerfah AL BAROUKI, the Coordinator of the General Secretariat of the Syrian National Congress
To follow the full session, please click on the attached link, where Ms. Minerva’s intervention begins in the 22nd minute.