Full Military Incursion Would Overwhelm Ability to Respond, Officials Tell Security Council, Warning of Potential Catastrophe for 3 Million Syrians
Syria’s Representative Questions ‘Politicized’ Approaches to Meetings, Highlights Coalition’s Role in Destruction of Raqqa
Escalating violence in north-western Syria threatens to trigger a humanitarian catastrophe that would affect more than 3 million people in the country’s Idlib Governorate, senior United Nations officials told the Security Council today, warning that a full military incursion would overwhelm all ability to respond.
The Under-Secretary-General for Peacebuilding and Political Affairs cited reports showing that the Government of Syria has resumed air strikes against areas inside the Idlib de-escalation area, and that the terrorist organization Hayat Tahrir al-Sham has stepped up its cross-line raids.
She also expressed grave concern about the growing number of civilian deaths and the destruction of critical infrastructure in the wake of intensified deadly clashes involving forces of the Syrian Government and their allies, the armed opposition and the Security Council-listed Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. Welcoming efforts to restore the 2018 agreement signed by the Russian Federation and Turkey to establish the ceasefire and patrolling of the area, she appealed to all parties to cease hostilities, uphold international law and protect civilians. Reiterating the Secretary-General’s calls for recommitment to the ceasefire agreement, she stressed that the fight against terrorism cannot be the pretext for disregarding obligations under international law.
The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator said that in just three weeks of escalating violence, 180,000 people have been displaced, 160 killed and millions trapped in an ever-shrinking area. Attacks against camps for the internally displaced have resulted in civilian deaths and injuries, he said, adding that schools have been damaged or destroyed, and medical facilities targeted. Air strikes, shelling or fighting have damaged or destroyed 18 health centres in the de-escalation zone since 28 April.
“Despite our warning, our worst fears are now coming true,” he continued, citing calls, repeated since 2018, for the Council to avoid what could become a humanitarian catastrophe. Sharing the answers to some questions from Member States, non-governmental organizations, doctors and families affected by the fighting, he said he has no response to one questioning the point of the Security Council passing resolutions that reinforce the prohibition against bombing hospitals. “That, Mr. President, is a very good question,” he said. “It is, of course, not really addressed to me.”
Following the briefings, many Council members deplored the spiralling violence, with some calling for investigations to bring perpetrators of war crimes to justice. Poland’s representative said “it is again civilians who are paying the highest price” amid air strikes over Idlib and northern Hama as well as increased attacks by United Nations-designated terrorist groups.
Belgium’s representative, also speaking on behalf of Germany and Kuwait, emphasized the need to end the hostilities and ensure unconditional, safe and timely humanitarian access. As for targeted attacks against civilians, he stressed: “We stand firm in our commitment to fight impunity.”
The representative of the United States expressed concern that the Russian Federation justifies its bombardment of civilian infrastructure as a counter-terrorism mechanism. Calling upon that country to influence the behaviour of the Assad regime, he emphasized that the latter must allow aid to reach civilians in need.
By contrast, the Russian Federation’s representative rejected accusations against Syria of violating international humanitarian law, saying there are no actions targeting civilians or civilian infrastructure. Instead, data must be verified to determine whether locations are actually in deconflicted areas, he said, expressing hope that the United States will end its occupation of Syrian territory. No kind of fight against terrorism can justify the occupation of foreign territory, he stressed.
Syria’s representative expressed his delegation’s reservations about politicized approaches taken by certain Council members in seeking meetings over issues involving the Syrian Government protecting its citizens against terrorist attacks. Citing several examples of coalition forces attacking civilian populations, he recalled that Amnesty International issued a detailed report on the destruction of Raqqa, adding that such coalition activities only help to spread terrorism and represent a mobilization against his country.
Iran’s representative emphasized that creating the de-escalation area was only a temporary measure that does not limit the Syrian Government’s right to fight Council-designated terrorists. Pointing out that a dangerous terrorist group is currently allowed to use more than 2 million civilians as human shields, he said the “persistence of this situation would enable terrorists to kill more civilians”. He stressed: “We should be vigilant enough not to confuse the protection of civilians with the protection of terrorists.”
Meanwhile, Turkey’s representative said that the Syrian regime’s recent belligerence in attacking civilians, hospitals and schools risks disrupting the political process during the final stages of forming the proposed constitutional committee. Instead, the Idlib memorandum establishing the de-escalation area has prevented a tragedy and “provides the oxygen for political efforts”, he said.
Also delivering statements were representatives of the United Kingdom, France, Dominican Republic, Peru, Equatorial Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire, South Africa, China, Kuwait, Germany and Indonesia.
The meeting began at 9:42 a.m. and ended at 12:01 p.m.
ROSEMARY DICARLO, Under-Secretary-General for Peacebuilding and Political Affairs, cautioning that 3 million civilians in Idlib are at risk, recalled that until recently, the Russian-Turkish memorandum of understanding had significantly reduced the violence in north-west Syria. “However, we now see increasing hostilities on the ground.” The United Nations welcomed the 15 May announcement of a Turkish-Russian working group intended to re-establish the cessation of hostilities, but has followed with great concern the dangerous intensification of violence involving forces of the Government of Syria and their allies, the armed opposition, and the Security Council-listed terrorist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.
Noting reports that the Government has resumed air strikes against areas inside the Idlib de-escalation area, she reported that Hayat Tahrir al-Sham has stepped up its cross-line raids against Government forces and launched weaponized drones onto Government-controlled areas, including the Russian Federation’s Khmeimim Air Base. While welcoming the coordinated efforts of Turkey and the Russian Federation to patrol inside the “de-militarized zone”, she pointed out that attacks by both sides continued outside patrol hours and patrols areas, increasing significantly in late April.
On 6 May, Government forces began a ground offensive, reportedly including Russian air support and opened two fronts, one in northern Hama and the other in north-east Latakia, she said, adding that, as of 15 May, the Government had seized several towns inside the “demilitarized zone” in northern Hama. Since late April, the escalation has killed more than 100 civilians and displaced 180,000 more, she reported, also noting that air strikes and shelling have destroyed schools, hospitals and other vital infrastructure. “We appeal to all parties to cease hostilities, uphold international law and protect civilians,” she said, reiterating the Secretary-General’s calls for all parties to recommit to the Russian-Turkish Agreement.
She went on to stress that, while the international community agrees that the presence of Tahrir al-Sham in Idlib Governorate must be addressed, with 3 million civilians in close quarters, the fight against terrorism cannot be the pretext for disregarding obligations under international law. “We must continue a sustained dialogue with all parties.” Concrete action on the release of detainees and clarification about those missing is critical, she said, emphasizing that large-scale release of children, the elderly, infirm and women is the single greatest contribution that could be made now. International cooperation and support for the Geneva process is critical if the Special Envoy for Syria is to realize his mandate, she added.
MARK LOWCOCK, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, cited the deadly escalation of conflict in the north-west over the last three weeks, recalling that the Secretary-General has warned about this possibility for months. “Despite our warning, our worst fears are now coming true,” he said, adding that the United Nations estimates that 3 million people live in the de-escalation zone, an area now controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. Citing previous warnings to the Council, he said 180,000 people have been displaced in three weeks, 160 killed and millions are stuck in an ever-shrinking area. In addition, attacks against camps for the internally displaced have resulted in civilian deaths and injuries, while schools have been damaged or destroyed, leaving 400,000 students unable to sit exams.
The humanitarian response is stretched, he said. “We have told you before that a full military incursion would overwhelm all ability to respond. We are rapidly approaching that scenario,” he predicted. Sounding the alarm about attacks against medical facilities, which are protected under international humanitarian law, he said air strikes, shelling or fighting have damaged or destroyed 18 health centres in the de-escalation zone since 28 April, as the “trend continues, day after day”. With 20 confirmed attacks, based on World Health Organization (WHO) global methodology, a total of 49 health facilities have partially or totally suspended activities and are no longer providing the monthly average of 171,000 patient consultations, 2,760 major surgical operations and 1,400 assisted births.
Sharing the answers to questions from Member States, non-governmental organizations, doctors and families affected by the fighting, he said that he does not know why hospitals are being bombed or who is responsible, although the perpetrators are using sophisticated weapons, including a modern air force and “smart” weapons. The United Nations provides the parties in conflict with details of the locations of health facilities with a view to protecting civilians, he explained, adding that he cannot say whether the information is being used to target them instead. The same trend occurred in eastern Ghouta in 2018, he added, recalling that he and the then Special Envoy expressed their concerns, which are yet to be addressed with full, satisfactory answers. Another questioner, he said, queried the point of the Security Council passing resolutions that reinforce the prohibition against bombing hospitals. “That, Mr. President, is a very good question. It is, of course, not really addressed to me.”
MARC PECSTEEN DE BUYTSWERVE (Belgium), also speaking on behalf of Germany and Kuwait, condemned the violent attacks, emphasizing: “The fight against terrorism can in no way justify attacks on civilians.” Counter-terrorism operations do not override the responsibility to protect civilians, and the use of barrel bombs is completely unacceptable, he said. It demonstrates a complete disregard for human life and represents a strategy of collective punishment, he added, stressing the need to ensure accountability for violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law. “We stand firm in our commitment to fight impunity,” he reiterated, condemning all attacks against hospitals and schools. Noting the significance of the Russian-Turkish memorandum of understanding in helping to de-escalate violence in north-western Syria, he pointed out that 3 million people, including 1 million children, live in the region and a wide-scale offensive would lead to a humanitarian catastrophe. Underlining the paramount importance of a lasting peace, he urged all parties to avoid further escalation and emphasized the need for unconditional, safe and timely humanitarian access.
JONATHAN R. COHEN (United States) said the September 2018 Russia-Turkey agreement is absolutely essential to maintaining international peace and security. Millions of lives are at risk as the Governments of Syria and the Russian Federation carry out the escalation of hostilities, he added, noting that recent fighting forced civilians to seek safety in camps and put aid workers in danger. Recalling the Secretary-General’s warning that a military assault on Iblib would unleash an unimaginable humanitarian catastrophe, he expressed concern that the Russian Federation justifies its bombardment of civilian infrastructure as a counter-terrorism mechanism. He called upon that country to influence the behaviour of the Assad regime, emphasizing: “This means full cessation of all hostilities, full stop.” Damascus must also allow humanitarian assistance to reach civilians in need. “Any use of chemical weapons, including chlorine gas, will be met with a strong response,” he warned. With progress on the proposed constitutional committee within reach, Russia’s bombardments send the wrong message and jeopardize the process, he said. The only solution is a political agreement that guarantees the full participation of all Syrians, he emphasized. He went on to express his delegation’s concern that the military escalation is an attempt to stall pragmatic efforts towards a political resolution of the conflict. The United States remains fully committed to Council resolution 2254 (2015), he affirmed, emphasizing: “Millions of lives depend on it.”
KAREN PIERCE (United Kingdom), describing the situation in Idlib as dire, cited the regime’s offensive in north-western Syria that left thousands displaced and many dead or wounded. “That’s a clear violation of international humanitarian law?” she asked. “What is necessary and what is proportional about bombing 18 health facilities?” Whoever is bombing these hospitals has a modern air force, she said, adding that it would be “absolutely grotesque” if health workers providing coordinates as a way to ensure their own safety found themselves targeted by deliberate attacks. “I think we need answers today”, she said, adding that if the answer is Syria and Russia, then both ambassadors present today must ensure that there will be no more such attacks. Counter-terrorism operations are not a license to attack civilians, she emphasized, pointing out: “It’s in the Geneva Conventions.” She went on to express alarm over the Russian Federation’s claim that the so-called retaliatory strikes have been precise, surgical and necessary.
FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France) emphasized the need to confirm information that the offensive is over. “It is essential to make sure that the ceasefire is maintained overtime,” he added. Idlib cannot become a new Aleppo, he said, warning that an offensive there would not only have dire humanitarian consequences but would also cause the mass displacement of civilians. He called upon the Russian Federation to honour its commitment to maintain the ceasefire in Idlib. He went on to warn: “We will be extremely firm in case there is a new use of chemical weapons and will stand ready to react.” Stressing the need to respect international humanitarian law, he said attacks against hospitals and health workers constitute war crimes, adding that the protection of civilians, including humanitarian and medical workers, is imperative and non-negotiable. “Let’s not make a mistake here, the offensive is not just about fighting terrorism,” he said, asking how some can say they welcome the return of Syrian refugees to their homes while carrying out such an offensive.
JOSÉ SINGER WEISINGER (Dominican Republic) said the de-escalation zone is supposed to be safe, but violations of the agreement that created it have exposed 500,000 people to violence, displaced 180,000 others and disrupted services in targeted attacks against infrastructure while threatening to trigger a humanitarian crisis. The Council has a responsibility to respond in a united manner to calls from the humanitarian community and must ensure an end to attacks against hospitals and schools while enhancing the protection of civilians, he said, warning that inaction will call the Council’s very credibility into question. He called for an immediate end to the bombing of civilians.
LUIS UGARELLI (Peru) said investigations must identify and punish those responsible for targeting hospitals, which constitutes a war crime. The alarming resurgence of violence is exacerbating the grave conditions facing women and children, he said, emphasizing the need to address the needs of thousands of displaced persons living in precarious situations. All parties in conflict must act to prevent the situation in Idlib from becoming a humanitarian nightmare, he said, calling upon the parties, particularly the Government of Syria, to work towards a political solution, with the Astana partners playing their critical role.
ANATOLIO NDONG MBA (Equatorial Guinea) called upon all parties to halt rising tensions in Idlib and comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law. They also have an obligation to protect civilian infrastructure, he added. “We cannot remain mere onlookers,” he declared, emphasizing that efforts to resolve the problems in the de-escalation zone must be unwavering. No one should sabotage bilateral actions, which could jeopardize progress towards a settlement. Equatorial Guinea supports calls for an independent monitoring team in Idlib, he said, adding that, among other things, it can help to bring perpetrators of grave crimes to justice and prevent a possible massacre looming on the horizon.
JOANNA WRONECKA (Poland) noted that the current fighting involves the Syrian Government and its allies as well as armed opposition forces and Hayat Tahir al-Sham. “Let me be crystal clear: it is again civilians who are paying the highest price” amid air strikes over Idlib and northern Hama as well as increased attacks by United Nations-designated terrorist groups. Condemning such atrocities in the strongest terms, she pressed all parties — especially the Astana guarantors — to uphold their international obligations, stressing the Council’s moral and legal duty to alleviate civilian suffering. Any military operation must align with international humanitarian law and international human rights law, she said, underlining that a political agreement, in accordance with resolution 2254 (2015) and the Geneva communiqué, remains the only way to forge peace.
GBOLIÉ DÉSIRÉ WULFRAN IPO (Côte d’Ivoire) noted that the new spike in violence continues despite the Russian-Turkish agreement, exacerbating an already grave humanitarian situation. Calling on the belligerents to cease their actions to give the peace process a chance, he urged the parties to implement the Russian-Turkish agreement in full. Violations of international law must be investigated and perpetrators must be brought to justice, he emphasized. Urgent issues, including the activities of the proposed constitutional committee, must be geared towards peace, through dialogue under the terms of the relevant Security Council resolutions.
VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) asked why the humanitarian troika hesitates to convene meetings when civilians were dying from air strikes in other areas, including the situation in Raqqa in 2017, where coalition aviation and artillery strikes caused grave damage and many deaths, according to Amnesty International. Emphasizing that double standards must not be applied in Syria, he pointed out that some parties are preventing civilians from leaving Rukban. He expressed hope that the United States will stop its occupation of Syrian territory, emphasizing that no kind of fight against terrorism can justify the occupation of foreign territory. He rejected accusations of international humanitarian law violations levelled at Syria, saying there are no actions targeting civilians or civilian infrastructure. Instead, data must be verified to determine whether locations are actually in deconflicted areas, he added.
He went on to say that continued aggressive actions by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham in Idlib provoked a response, citing recent attacks against the Syrian Armed Forces and other targets. Absent from today’s briefings was the terrorist group’s targeted attacks, he noted. Meanwhile, the Syrian Armed Forces have retaliated against attacks by terrorist groups that use weapons including multiple-launch rocket systems. The Syrian Government has also taken counter-measures to clear areas where terrorists are present, he said. Confirming his country’s commitment to all agreements, he said it will continue to combat terrorism. What is important going forward is to advance peace and to prevent an escalation of the situation in the Persian Gulf, which could cause the region to slide into chaos, he cautioned. As an Astana partner, the Russian Federation will work towards peace, he said.
TIYANI RAYMOND SITHOLE (South Africa) condemned the escalation of violence, particularly in the north-west, saying it resulted in the unnecessary loss of innocent lives. Attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure, including the destruction of at least 9 education and 12 health facilities, is unacceptable, he emphasized. Expressing concern that 16 humanitarian agencies have suspended their activities, he called upon all parties to uphold international humanitarian law and protect civilians. He urged them to cease hostilities immediately and adhere to their commitments, contained in the September 2018 memorandum on the stabilization of the Idlib de-escalation area.
MA ZHAOXU (China) said it is imperative to fight terrorism and to safeguard Syria’s independence and territorial integrity. Counter-terrorism is a major part of the solution, he added, noting that without eradicating terrorism, there will be no peace in Syria and no stability in the region. Humanitarian issues must be taken into full account, he said, commending United Nations efforts in that regard. He also expressed support for targeted humanitarian measures in north-west Syria, saying the United Nations must help the Syrian people develop and rebuild their nation. China has provided food, and other supplies and assistance, and stands ready to promote a political solution to the conflict, he added.
BADER ABDULLAH N. M. ALMUNAYEKH (Kuwait) urged all parties to respect the Russian-Turkish ceasefire in Idlib and emphasized the need to step up international support for a political solution acceptable to all Syrians. Condemning all terrorist attacks in Idlib, he stressed that counter-terrorism measures must be undertaken with respect for international human rights law and international humanitarian law. All parties must also respect civilian infrastructure, particularly schools and hospitals, he said. Underlining that there is no military resolution of the conflict, he said the only solution is a political one in accordance with Council resolution 2254 (2015) and the Geneva Communiqué.
JUERGEN SCHULZ (Germany) said the targeting of civilian infrastructure is absolutely unacceptable. “We are unified in our rejection of terrorist groups,” he added, emphasizing that the fight against terrorism can in no way justify indiscriminate attacks. Counter-terrorism measures do not diminish the responsibility to protect civilians, he said, adding that the Syrian regime must live up to that responsibility, which remains part and parcel of a future political solution. As long as human rights are violated on a daily basis and there is no accountability, the Council will have to keep its attention on the situation in Syria, he said, adding: “This requires a change of behaviour of the Syrian regime.” It is the Syrian Government’s responsibility to provide safe passage for the return of displaced persons, he said, calling upon the Government to grant unimpeded humanitarian access for aid workers.
DIAN TRIANSYAH DJANI (Indonesia), Council President for May, spoke in his national capacity, emphasizing that civilians must not continue to be the targets and victims of military operations. Calling upon the Council to continue pressing all parties to recommit to the Russian-Turkish agreement, he said the Astana guarantors and others with influence over the parties must help to prevent further escalation and engage in dialogue to stabilize the situation in north-west Syria. The current escalation must not derail political progress, he emphasized.
BASHAR JA’AFARI (Syria) expressed reservations about politicized approaches taken by certain Council members in asking for meetings over the fact that the Government of Syria is protecting civilians against terrorist attacks. Citing several examples of coalition forces attacking civilians, he said Amnesty International issued a detailed report on the destruction of Raqqa, adding that such activities only help to spread terrorism and represent a mobilization against Syria. Idlib is part of Syria, and the Council is responsible for helping the Government protect its territory, he emphasized, pointing out that more than 80 per cent of it is currently occupied by terrorist groups. They include Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and Jabhat al-Nusrah, branches of Al-Qaida with thousands of foreign terrorist fighters, he added. Questioning recent actions by Turkey that contradict that challenge, he stressed that Syria must protect Idlib’s civilian population.
He went on to express concern about those sponsoring terrorist groups, noting that Council members behind the relevant resolutions are taking no action to address the spate of terrorist attacks in Syria. When will some Council members stop supporting terrorists operating within the country’s borders? he asked, reiterating that Turkey must honour its commitment to relevant agreements and stop supporting terrorist groups. Citing further reports of terrorist attacks against several Syrian cities, he said no Government would agree to give in to a terrorist threat. Ending attacks on citizens means stopping the manipulative actions taken by some States, he said, suggesting that, instead, they should adopt an approach requiring the repatriation of foreign terrorist fighters rather than stripping them of their citizenship. Warning that armed terrorist groups are determined to stage attacks only to blame the Government, he said Damascus has sent many letters to the Secretary-General addressing such concerns, yet Syrian blood continues to flow. Syria will continue to fight to protect its citizens, he reaffirmed.
FERIDUN HADI SINIRLIOĞLU (Turkey) reiterated that a large-scale military assault on Idlib would cause a major humanitarian catastrophe. The Idlib memorandum has prevented a tragedy so far, but concern is growing over the regime’s increasing ceasefire violations — exceeding 600 — since late April, he said, warning: “We are faced with a disaster in the making.” Citing the consequences of the regime’s aggressions — including targeted strikes against hospitals and civilians — he recalled that the Turkish Armed Forces were attacked recently. Such actions can in no way be justified as fighting terrorism, he stressed, adding: “Innocent people must not be sacrificed in the name of fighting terrorism; this will only create new hotbeds of terrorism and extremism.”
The Idlib memorandum “provides the oxygen for the political efforts”, he continued. However, the Syrian regime’s recent belligerence risks disrupting the political process during the final stages of forming the constitutional committee. Turkey continues its cooperation with the Russian Federation to preserve the status of Idlib as a de-escalation area, and the international community must make every effort to ensure that the regime respects the ceasefire, he said. “The regime has so many times committed crimes against humanity. The red lines have been often crossed. We cannot repeat the same mistake again; the consequences of inaction are immense.”
Shelling and ground offensives must stop, he continued, emphasizing that a United Nations-mediated political process, in accordance with resolution 2254 (2015), is the only solution to the conflict. The Council is responsible for preventing a catastrophe, he said, pointing out that Turkey and other neighbouring countries continue to bear the brunt of Syria’s humanitarian crisis. He added that he would not respond to the comments by his counterpart from Syria, whom he does not consider a legitimate representative of that country.
MAJID TAKHT RAVANCHI (Iran) said that, as one of the guarantors of the Astana Format, Iran continues to support the Idlib de-escalation, but some questions remain. Should the Government allow these internationally designated terrorist groups to continue their control over its territory while it has the power to defeat them in a matter of days? Should the international community allow such terrorist groups to take a number of civilians as their hostages? Noting that the creation of the de-escalation area was only a temporary measure, he emphasized that it does not limit the Syrian Government’s right to fight Security Council-designated terrorists. Right now, a dangerous terrorist group is allowed to use more than 2 million civilians as human shields, he said.
“Persistence of this situation would enable terrorists to kill more civilians,” he cautioned. “We should be vigilant enough not to confuse the protection of civilians with the protection of terrorists.” Continuing the current state of affairs will further interrupt the Government’s efforts to restore control over the entire national territory and to secure the safety and security of its citizens, he said. It will also prevent the return of refugees and delay the country’s reconstruction. No action, no matter by whom, should undermine Syria’s sovereignty, political independence, unity and territorial integrity, he added, emphasizing that the Astana guarantors reject all attempts to create new realities on the ground. The United States must, therefore, put an immediate end to its illegal presence in parts of Syria, he stressed.
The representative of the United Kingdom took the floor a second time, noting that there are still no answers to the attacks against hospitals. While the United Kingdom condemns all terrorist groups and attacks, it also recognizes that the Assad regime does not and never has led the fight against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh). That has always been a collective effort on the part of the coalition, she stressed. If Russia and Syria are the only ones flying planes over Idlib, more answers are needed as to who is bombing hospitals and why.
The representative of Syria, also taking the floor a second time, said the United States has levelled many hospitals in Syria but because it is the United States, there is “no problem”. Meanwhile, the United Kingdom has supported the “White Helmets” group, which was dedicated solely to fabricating a chemical attack, he said, recalling that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon offered his assistance in verifying the use of chemical weapons in March 2013 but did not help confirm who carried out the attacks. “To this day the perpetrators have not been identified and yet the information has been provided,” he said. Turning to the United Kingdom’s representative, he said: “Stop asking questions that will embarrass you because we have answers.”
The representative of the Russian Federation took the floor a second time to state that the United Kingdom’s delegate was absent from the room when he made his statement addressing several of her queries. He said that he posed similar questions about hospital coordinates to the World Health Organization (WHO), but the agency has refused to answer out of fear that responding would endanger those providing the information. If WHO shares the sources of its information with the United Kingdom, hopefully the United Kingdom will pass it on, he said.
The representative of the United Kingdom said it is important to get together with WHO and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs on the question of coordinates because “it is a problem”. Turning to Syria’s representative, she said that she did not receive the assurances she was seeking.