‘Now Is the Time to Act in Unison, Secure Nationwide Ceasefire, Advance Legitimate Aspirations of Syria’s People’, Says Secretary-General

The following statement by UN Secretary-General António Guterres was issued today:

11 March marks 12 years of grinding conflict, systematic atrocities and untold human grief in Syria.  Syrians suffered yet another tragedy this year.  The recent earthquakes hit as humanitarian needs had reached their highest levels since the beginning of the conflict and with economic conditions worsening, taking a terrible toll on communities already ravaged by war and displacement.

The damage is worst in the north-west, where millions already rely on humanitarian assistance.  As we mourn all those who lost their lives and expand humanitarian operations across Syria, we must ensure continued access using all modalities and sufficient resources to meet the needs of all those affected.  This includes early recovery assistance, which builds resilience while addressing immediate life-saving needs.  The need to guarantee cross-border access to north-west Syria for 12 months has become ever more urgent.

The support provided in the aftermath of these earthquakes must be channelled into renewed energy on the political track, to address the fundamental issues underpinning the Syria conflict.  I remain convinced that reciprocal and verifiable steps by the Syrian parties and among key international stakeholders on the comprehensive set of issues outlined in Security Council resolution 2254 (2015) can unlock the path to sustainable peace.  Now is the time for us to act in unison, to secure a nationwide ceasefire, advance the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people, and create the conditions necessary for the voluntary return of refugees in safety and dignity, with our strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Syria, and to regional stability.

Our collective action is further needed to end the arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance of tens of thousands of people.  This issue affects millions of Syrian victims, survivors and families on all sides who are seeking to clarify the fate and whereabouts of their missing loved ones and it remains an obstacle to peace as long as it is unresolved.  I take this opportunity to reiterate my call for the General Assembly to consider establishing a new international body to clarify the fate and whereabouts of persons reasonably believed to be missing in Syria.  Syrians have been victims of violations of international humanitarian and human rights law on a massive and systematic scale.  These crimes have killed hundreds of thousands, displaced half the population and left deep scars, visible and invisible.  There can be no impunity if we want to secure a path to sustainable peace.

For information media. Not an official record.