Hoping that conflict in Syria will end completely, sooner than later, India on Wednesday said that it is ready to play a “constructive and meaningful” role in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) towards achieving that objective. During a UNSC briefing on Syria, TS Tirumurti, Indian Permanent Representative to the United Nations, said it is “disheartening” to note that the ongoing crisis in Syria still has no end in sight and called on the international community to provide assistance to Syria for rebuilding its infrastructure.
New Delhi asserted that terrorism emanating from Syria has spread far even reaching parts of Africa and the humanitarian situation has worsened in the country.
“As we begin our new Council term eight years later, it is indeed disheartening to note that the ongoing crisis in Syria still has no end in sight and the political process is yet to take off. The conflict has become even more complex with the involvement of regional players,” Tirumurti said.
“Terrorism emanating from Syria has spread far, even reaching parts of Africa. Foreign fighters involved in the Syrian conflict have also moved to other places as mercenaries. The humanitarian situation has worsened, further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” he added.
Tirumurti said the fact that the conflict has been so long-drawn and intractable, points to the inevitability of a Syrian-led and Syrian-owned political process, preserving the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria.
Syria’s civil war began during the Arab Spring in 2011 as a peaceful uprising against the country’s president, Bashar al-Assad. It has since escalated — shattering the lives of Syrians, destroying cities, straining global politics, and spurring diplomatic efforts that are constantly questioned as the world is witnessing the horrors of ongoing warfare.
“We hope that the conflict in Syria will end completely, sooner than later, and the reconstruction of Syria will begin so that Syria reclaims its place in the comity of nations as well as its historic role in the Arab world. Towards this objective, India is ready to play a constructive and meaningful role in the Council,” the envoy said.
The envoy expressed concern that hostilities in other parts of the country have continued unabated, adding that the prices of fuel and bread have doubled, the Syrian pound has devalued in the last two months.
“The presence of foreign terrorist fighters, along with continued terror activities, has worsened the situation on the ground. It is imperative that all parties must adhere to their international obligations to fight terrorism and terrorist organisations in Syria, as designated,” he said.
“We call on the international community to provide assistance to Syria in rebuilding its infrastructure, safeguarding people’s livelihoods and fighting COVID-19. In this situation, compounded by both economic and humanitarian crises, we should be sensitive to the debilitating impact that sanctions continue to have on the lives of the common people of Syria,” he added.
India, Tirumurti said, supports the UN continuing its humanitarian relief operations through all possible channels, with the cooperation of the Syrian Government.
“In this regard, it is important to delink humanitarian assistance from progress on the political track. We believe that the noble and necessary cause of humanitarian assistance should always be bereft of politics,” he added.
Since the conflict broke out in 2011, India has provided USD12 million as humanitarian assistance to the Syrian government through bilateral and multilateral channels, Tirumurti apprised the council.
Furthermore, India has set up a biotech park and an IT Centre and extended USD 265 million in lines of credit for projects in the steel and power sectors.
In July 2020, in order to help Syria fight the COVID-19 pandemic, New Delhi sent a gift of 10 metric tonnes of medicines to Damascus.
“We also organised an artificial limb fitment camp in Damascus during December 2019 – January 2020, which benefited over 500 Syrians. We have also provided 1000 scholarships for Syrian students to study in India. As Syria’s reliable and long-lasting friend, India stands ready to continue to render all possible help and support to the Syrian people,” the envoy said.