India has urged the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to assess the “costs of its actions and inactions” in Syria and said there is an urgent need to build consensus on the humanitarian situation and collectively work to ameliorate the sufferings of people in the middle eastern country.
Speaking in the UNSC Meeting on Syria (humanitarian issues) on Monday, TS Tirumurti, Indian envoy at the UN, said that the decade-long conflict has had a devastating effect on the people of Syria. He said that India is deeply concerned with the alarming statistics.
“An estimated half-million people have died, millions have been displaced, both internally and externally, the health infrastructure has collapsed, and children have been deprived of basic education. Women, children and youth have especially been deeply impacted. The Covid-19 pandemic has further aggravated the humanitarian situation,” he said.
The unrest in Syria began in 2011 as part of a wider Arab Springs protest and have escalated from discontent against the Syrian government to an armed conflict. The conflict has left more than 380,000 people dead, devastated cities and drawn in other countries.
More than 5 million Syrians have fled the country and 6 million are internally displaced. With more than 13 million people in need of assistance, the conflict has caused untold suffering for Syrian men, women and children.
“The Council needs to introspect about the cost of its actions and inactions. There is an urgent need to build consensus on the humanitarian situation and collectively work to ameliorate the sufferings of people in Syria. We cannot afford to be unmoved,” he said.
“The politicization of the humanitarian track does not help anyone, least of all the millions of suffering Syrians. What we need immediately is an engagement that is both consistent with Syrian independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty as well as addresses the urgency of the humanitarian issues to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people,” he added.
Syria’s economy has suffered multiple shocks over the past decade, said the Indian envoy, adding that “the substantial depreciation of the Syrian Pound, which lost more than three-quarters of its value over the past year alone, has led to spiraling inflation and dwindling purchasing power of the average Syrian household”.
“The last decade has largely been lost for the Syrians, particularly for the children and youth, who have not been seeing anything but violence and conflict since 2011. This suffering should certainly move the Council members. The Council needs to introspect about the cost of its actions and inactions. There is an urgent need to build consensus on the humanitarian situation and collectively work to ameliorate the sufferings of people in Syria. We cannot afford to be unmoved,” he said.
India, the ambassador said, strongly condemned the attack on the surgical hospital in Al Atareb that resulted in the killing of innocent civilians.
Artillery shelling killed six civilians, including a child when it hit a surgical hospital in rebel-held northwest Syria early this month.
“India has consistently underlined the need to protect health and humanitarian workers. We have equally underlined that we cannot allow terrorists to take any further advantage of the situation and the Council should speak in one voice on terrorism. Let us not lose sight of the need to resolutely combat terrorists and terrorist groups,” he said.
The envoy said that India has already extended immediate medical assistance and food assistance to Syria recently.
“For our part, as we have mentioned earlier, India has already extended immediate medical assistance and food assistance to Syria recently, in addition to the development cooperation projects, including US$ 265 million in soft loans, and substantial human resources development initiatives under our technical cooperation program,” he said.
“Our artificial limb fitment camp of the well-known ‘Jaipur Foot’ of the Jaipur-based BMVSS in India, which was conducted in Damascus, benefited over 500 Syrians affected by the conflict. We had undertaken this Jaipur Foot initiative under the rubric of ‘India For Humanity’. We certainly need humanity now more than ever on the humanitarian crisis facing Syria,” he added.