Delivered by Ambassador Carolyn Schwalger, Deputy Permanent Representative of New Zealand to the United Nations, 22 August 2016

Thank you Mr President, and thank you to Under Secretary General O’Brien for your briefing. Let me assure you that we do remember Khaled Omar and all of those humanitarians and the search and rescue workers who put themselves at risk as they strive to save and to support innocent civilians both in Syria and beyond. Please do pass our appreciation to Yacoub for the service, his unwavering and his selfless service, that he has done through his work in Syria.

Distressed at the horrific humanitarian situation in Syria and the looming humanitarian catastrophe in Aleppo. New Zealand, Egypt and Spain, as Syria co penholders, humanitarian penholders, felt compelled to speak here in the open today. We thought it important to call here, publically in the open, on all relevant parties to take measures to improve the humanitarian situation, including by allowing immediate, unhindered and complete humanitarian access to all areas of Syria. Secondly, by immediately lifting all sieges and thirdly, implementing substantial pauses in all fighting to ensure sustained humanitarian deliveries to Aleppo can commence safely and effectively, whether it be via cross-line or a cross-border convoys. Finally, ensuring that all initiatives operate according to International Humanitarian Law and humanitarian principles.

We acknowledge the Russia support for the 48 hour humanitarian pauses and look forward to them working with the United Nations and other stakeholders to ensure full implementation in accordance with international humanitarian law as called upon by Under Secretary General O’Brien this morning.

Terrorism in all its forms and manifestations is criminal and unjustifiable. Da’esh and the Al Nusra Front which recently renamed itself Jabhat Fatah al Sham, are designated by the United Nations Security Council as terrorist organisations. The international community must do all it can to prevent any material or financial support from reaching these groups and dissuade any party to the cessation of hostilities from fighting in collaboration with them.

We strongly condemn ongoing and repeated attacks against medical personnel and facilities. All parties must uphold the principle of medical neutrality. The humanitarian situation will continue to deteriorate in the absence of a political solution. We reaffirm support for the Syrian-led political process, facilitated by the United Nations which includes formal negotiations on a political transition process.

We had hoped to agree a press statement which captured the points I have just outlined, and we are disappointed and frustrated that we have not been able to. It is disappointing that we are not able to agree on a response to the horrific humanitarian situation throughout Syria and the looming humanitarian situation in Aleppo. We must do better as a Council. The innocent civilians of Syria deserve no less from us.