Swedish statement at the UN Security Council Briefing on Eastern Ghouta
National statement by Ambassador Olof Skoog on behalf of Sweden at the United Nations Security Council Briefing on Eastern Ghouta, 22 February 2018, New York.
I thank you Mr. President and I thank the Russian Federation for having called for a meeting on the horrendous situation in Eastern Ghouta and I thank Mark Lowcock for his briefing. I want to make some brief remarks on behalf of Sweden and Kuwait.
In seven years of war, the situation in besieged Eastern Ghouta has never been worse. I want to thank OCHA for yet another briefing reminding us of the horrific reality for citizens in Eastern Ghouta and of the responsibilities of this Council.
Yesterday, the Secretary-General in this room said that the 400,000 inhabitants in Eastern Ghouta live in hell on earth. His appeal was to all of us in the Council to act to immediately suspend all war activities in Eastern Ghouta, allowing for humanitarian aid to reach all those in need. Allowing for the evacuation of the hundreds of people that need urgent treatment and that cannot be provided for and creating the possibility also for the other civilians to be effectively treated.
I want to take this opportunity to remind all parties, like Mark Lowcock just did, of their obligations under international law to protect civilians and hospitals and other medical facilities.
The co-penholders Sweden and Kuwait have put forward a draft resolution to respond to the constant calls – and legitimate calls – from the UN for a nationwide – nationwide – cessation of hostilities for 30 days to allow for humanitarian access and emergency medical evacuations. Our draft resolution also calls for the lifting of the siege directed against Eastern Ghouta. We plea to all Council members to come together to support this resolution, to urgently adopt it so that we can halt the incessant attacks against Eastern Ghouta and beyond and avert a situation that is beyond words in its desperation.
We, Sweden and Kuwait, furthermore urge the parties to the de-escalation agreement in Eastern Ghouta to comply and implement it. We call upon the Astana Guarantors – Russia, Iran and Turkey – to spare no effort and use all your influence on the parties to this end and to avert the human disaster unfolding before our eyes.
In response to my Russian colleague on our draft resolution. The UN convoys and the evacuation teams are ready to go, subject to standard security procedures. The draft resolution that we are putting forward is not a comprehensive peace deal – its aim is a much needed humanitarian pause for an initial period of 30 days. There are already ceasefire agreements in force for the areas where fighting has escalated the most recently. They need to be complied with. There are existing monitoring mechanisms that can be utilized. And the role of this Council, I believe, is to push the parties to the conflict to comply with the proposed cessation of hostilities. Compliance is on the shoulders of the parties.
I think that we can make a difference and I do think that we are tested today – not just as ambassadors representing our countries, but as human beings. And that is a massive responsibility.
Thank you Mr. President.